A second-hand life, living within the lines that have been drawn already, because anything outside the lines is wrong…
The inevitable truth is that we are not the people we want to be, that we have ideals we want to aspire, but with time the ideals are diluted until they are hardly recognizable. Individualism is shunned, because it is in direct conflict with society. It is no longer a society if people do whatever they want, because societies are there for people to belong to, to feel safe in, right?
Individualism is alright as long as it doesn’t show up too prominently. That is how it is sold and packaged, like you can show how much of an individual you are by wearing different colour shoes from everyone else, but that’s about it. When you start thinking different, that is dangerous. You start contributing to the decline of social order. Everyone doing what they want is chaos, it can only lead to trouble, it has to be stopped. The individual cannot think for himself, the individual is there to be thought for, to be used to contribute to the benefit of the group.
That is where conventional wisdom went wrong. Due to its nature, conventional wisdom can often be mistaken for foolishness. Because we all agree to agree does not make something right. The Earth being flat and at the centre of the universe was conventional wisdom for quite a while, it had supporters, people were killed for claiming otherwise, because it was limited to what people could see and hear.
Life as we know it is a series of events designed to destroy the individual and make him dependent on others. That is the essence of society, a sense of belonging. And the sense of belonging is heightened through pointing out and persecuting those that do not belong…
The thing with life is that it always seems original, that at some level we are the first people to do the things we are doing, but usually, unknown to us, someone else has done the exact same thing. Like it or not, we are all living second-hand lives. To make it worse, the things that make us original and unique are suppressed until they are lost, discarded like milk teeth that have to give way to the permanent set. And like molars that show up and hurt like hell, growing up means having to adopt things. Fine, it is alright to be inquisitive as a child, it is part of the learning process, but at some point, the need to know is killed through the idea that all the answers are in education, that knowing what you are supposed to know is secondary to knowing what is true.
Being intelligent is good, as long as that intelligence translates to measurable gain. Having a massive IQ, for instance, and not being able to apply that intelligence in the real world is a drag, conventional wisdom argues, because everything is supposed to benefit the human race. The real world is often designed to melt everyone down to their basic form and cast them in a mould so they can fit in. It’s like having a jigsaw puzzle. The way things should be is that everyone is a unique piece that has points where others attach, while the way things are is that everyone is a complete, one-piece puzzle, or a Rubik’s Cube that’s glued together so the colours don’t mix.
That is why there are no more renaissance men. In the Renaissance, individuals sought to learn more about their world than what was presented to them, that is how there were such interesting combinations as painter/sculptor/lawyer/doctor. The joy of knowing more about the world was more important than what had already been established. But with time came specialization, because individuals would be better suited for a society if they had a purpose. The Renaissance man was abandoned, the specialist became the ideal. Knowing everything about everything became secondary to being the best you can be…
The question remains, are we still individuals or has our fundamental wiring been changed so that we can only survive within a society?