Can You See The Real Me?

Individualism

 

Can you see the real me preacher?
Can you see the real me doctor?
Can you see the real me mother?
Can you see the real me?

Pete Townsend

When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Do you know the answer? Do you now who you really are? Are you even capable of knowing the answer? And until you know the answer, can you ever be truly free? Why do you need to be accepted by others? Is there such a hole in your life that the only answer is to follow?

As we all know, there are forces bearing down on each of us, stripping us of our individuality: parents; work; friends; lovers; children; evolving notions of morality; God; ignorance; prejudice; status; health; gender; physical attributes; vows; rules; talent; rituals; rote learning; memorization; rejection; pain; powerlessness... all of these daily considerations are overlayed by the daily messages we receive from Madison Avenue, the media and our government. Everything conspires to gain control over your mind. In the end, it becomes a life of brainwashing and denial. Is it any wonder that Nihilism is as viable an answer to life as a belief in a loving God?

The armies that align against our own individuality induce the pressure of conformity which leads to the stresses of one group against another as the struggle to be our true self seems to have fostered fear and alienation. The powerful notion of an absolute standard of being creates so much anger that we become oppressive as a collective instead of being liberated because each of us band with like cultures or backgrounds in order to bolster our sense of worth. Each group shouts out it's individuality with a force which further subjugates the individual within the group to the group's sense of self. It is ironic that a person can lose their self within the group that most understands the individuals struggles even as the individual seeks their own kind in order to protect themselves. The individual has become a subset of a subset; buried in the pile. Instead of liberation they become typecast because of the need for the group to survive.

Unfortunately, without the gift of genius or the plague of having nothing left to lose, it appears we are all somewhat stuck in the mindset of indulging what others think about us. Speaking your mind in the corporate world is frowned upon while the onslaught of political correctness has taken hold of our minds to such an extent that we are required, more than ever, to think long and hard before we speak. While the root of political correctness is laudable it has established hard boundaries in our expression and at times seems to stifle dissent, creativity and in-depth analysis. Freedom of speech has never seemed more distant or so narrowly defined as it is today.

The traditional view for the man on the street has been that speech was protected from government action. Hurtful words were combated with a child's snide retort of "sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me." Those days appear to be long gone as we obsessively protect the feelings of others. But who is the true arbiter of "correct-speak?" It's the same with our self-expression. We are constantly scrutinized by outsiders who silently note our hair-style, choice of wardrobe, use of the English language, material possessions and the like. We abdicate our self-image to their view because we are unable to summon either the courage or the confidence to be who or what we really are.

To me, the biggest impediment to true individualism is fear of ridicule and isolation. And yet, we seem to put the chains on ourselves. It's as if we slip them on willingly. We find no cause to fight. No ability to stand alone. We have been taught by the lamb that man can not live by bread alone yet we not only beg for bread from others; we bake it for ourselves.

Have you heard of Jeannette Rankin and Barbara Lee? Ms. Rankin was the only member of Congress to vote no to declaring war against Japan after Pearl Harbor. Ms. Lee was the only member of Congress to vote no to giving George Bush the authorization to retaliate against terrorist attacks against America. I'm not here to defend these two women, but they are supreme examples of courage of conviction. They are true individuals who voted their conscience and faced ridicule and accusations of treason. They were labeled unpatriotic and suffered greatly due to their decision to vote no. I only bring them up to contrast their individualism to so many in America who run with the mob. While I think their votes were a bit misguided and possibly flavored with unrealistic idealism, they are the type of people whom I admire the most. They subordinated their life for their values. It's the same with Martin Luther King Jr., and Mahatma Ghandhi. Death over slavery. Ridicule over mind control. Isolation over conformity.

To be your true self you must be willing to reject some of the basic ethics and social mores laid out by society and wholly embrace some of them. History has been full of unjust laws. Some still exist today. The point here is that you must strip yourself of all influence and believe what it is you believe. Can you do that? Can you speak out and walk alone?

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Comments 6 comments

Deborah Demander profile image

Deborah Demander 6 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

The ego will not allow most to speak out, or to stand out. Our ego wants to protect the image it so carefully projects out.

It takes a great deal of courage to speak your truth, and to not let the opinions of others shape who you become. Sadly, most people never get free.

Namaste.


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 6 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

It seems we deify other people and their opinions of ourselves. As I said in the piece we are buffeted by so many forces in our lives that we become lost in the soup.

Courage... I work in corporate America and I have to admit I wonder if what I write on this website will ever haunt me.


truebluewriter profile image

truebluewriter 5 years ago from Manila, Philippines

Loved the read and here are some of my thoughts regarding the topic :)

True. We band together into groups because we can’t stand alone or are afraid to. We are afraid of facing the consequences of our choices alone so we conform because it lightens the load.

However unless you have the "gift of genius or the plague of having nothing left to lose" going out and doing our own thing becomes a difficult choice to choose. It is sad but becoming a true individual and doing what you want to do and what makes you happy might be the correct choice in an ideal world, but ours isn't one. Most of the time practical needs will overcome personal ones and there is no possibility of expression of self if there is no self to begin with. Some people can’t take the harsh backlash that self expression might bring them because they have nothing to hold on to. It would be nice if it was only “fear of ridicule and isolation” that we had to deal with but for a lot of people it’s losing the job that supports the family or the good standing in society to get another one.

A lot of people are stuck here and can’t move on, not because of any fault of theirs, that's just how the world is I guess. It would be nice if society was more understanding and self expression had no impact on our professional lives but that’s not the case. In some cases hard work just isn’t enough and we conform because we have to.

I am not working by the way hehe I’m still a student but these are just what I’ve observed.


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 5 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

truebluewriter,

You are pretty enlightened for your age (not sure what it is but you look young)... yes you have to protect yourself especially with your career. There is no doubt about it.... I wrote this piece in a somewhat idealistic binge because I was thinking on the subject due to my desire to write protest poetry and my concern about the impact on my life. I was frustrated that I could be harmed by people who are dishonest and unwilling to explore the more controversial aspects of truth.


Desadi 5 years ago from Marietta, Ga

I absolutely agree with this. I have been at times what others thought I should and I have known great pain with that. Now I am absolutely me with the attitude of if I must suffer I would rather it be for truth rather than another person's fantasy. I agree with Maquis de Sade "you shall have to kill me or accept me as I am for I will not change"


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 5 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

@Desadi - thank you for the comments. I like what you said about it being better to suffer with the truth than with someone's fantasy that you are possibly attempting to fulfill... not changing is an interesting topic.. we want to grow which I would consider changing as long as it is healthy and positive but we do need to be true o ourselves...

Of course can you grant the same freedoms to others:

http://hubpages.com/literature/Poem-Dont-Change-Fo

And then here is a short one about being yourself so you can love like yourself:

http://hubpages.com/literature/Prose-Its-Time-to-b

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