Who Is Your Driver?

This thought came to my mind a few minutes ago:

If you let yourself being driven by your audience, you’re never gonna be yourself.

Just as it passed through the brain chamber, another voice questioned it (as it usually does with me, being a reflective person, a questioner of things, and — quite probably — a skeptic: is it true?

A silent dialog ensued. The dialectic began.

Those whose lives are so dependent on others’ approval almost always sacrifice their own inner voices in favour of those of others’, and thus they let themselves being driven by forces outside themselves. Their individuality is driven and defined not by who they really are inside, but by what others want them to be, directly or indirectly. They are almost always afraid of what others would say or do if they did not abide by the ‘rules’ that others have made for them. They prefer to hide who they really are, what their true feelings, opinions, and thoughts are in favour of the comfort of being accepted by and becoming part of their group — large or small.

Some of us might say that such persons are pathetic, coward, or hypocrite. Are they really?

I don’t think such a judgment is without any prejudice; and a prejudice it is to those who think of themselves as being truer to their inner voices, who are confident of their stout individualism, who think that I (always in Capital) is above we, or they, or he or she. They think that by being themselves, they stand a better chance of contributing more to their community (their group) because they bring with them what others don’t. Plurality and diversity are as natural as the universe itself in which elements of varying kinds are connected to one another in such an unlikely systematic structure despite their chaotic appearances. Unique individuals form an ecosystem where everyone is expected to make their own unique contribution that will make it possible for the whole system to work. Try to homogenise an ecosystem, and what you get is a fragile — if not a dead or dying — environment. That’s what Nature taught us, and as we often consider ourselves as being a superior member of It, we’d better be wise enough to take it seriously.

At a glance, the latter argument is evidently stronger; and for saying that, I have probably revealed myself as an advocate of it: I am for diversity, for individualism, and that is my personal inclination.

However, part of me (my alter ego, if you wish, my own dialectic partner) is still questioning it. We are not plants or animals although biologically we are a species of Animal ourselves. Diversity should exist as far as species are concerned: different species are needed to keep the systems of the universe going; but within a species, similarities and concurrence to a set of values and common rules are also necessary or even essential in the preservation of the species in question. Elephants are elephants because they share a set of characteristics that make them elephants, and among them, it is necessary that individuals belonging to their group(s) abide by the rules and values — if such words can be applied to them as they do to us — that they share no matter how unique each individual is. Any deviation from the shared rules and values is a potential threat to the group’s survival. The same thing is not an exception among humans: for our own survival, the survival of the human race in general and the survival of each social group within the race, it is absolutely necessary that its (their?) individual members abide by our common rules and values.

And now as we have set the stage whereby both sides of the arguments are equally strong — and have equal footage — our next question is how much individuality and concurrence do we need to ensure that we have enough diversity and concurrence and cohesion as not to sacrifice or jeopardise our own survival, either as a race or as groups within that umbrella group.

Diversity/differences are what keep the wheel moving; however, we cannot afford to let the wheel move erratically, wildly, as it is going to make us wobble and fall headlong to an uncharted abyss of which the way back up is, to say the least, would be difficult. In this case, the stabilising factor of concurrence or adherence to shared values and rules is and should be the driver.

Eki Akhwan,
Warsaw, 23 November 2013


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