Monday, June 24, 2013

Limitations on Truth: Desperate Conformity

We may define society as all the organized social groups that exist in any given area. Examples of common organized social groups include families, churches, schools, offices, and factories.

We may define culture as all the meanings and means shared by members of a given society. Meanings are all the ideas we carry in our minds. Important meanings include beliefs, values, and norms. Beliefs are our ideas about the nature of things. Values are our ideas about what is important. Norms are our ideas about right and wrong. The beliefs, values, and norms of a culture are all interrelated.

The most important meanings of a culture are religious in nature. Religion explains to us who the gods are. It also explains to us how the gods provide us with security, happiness, importance, justification, and meaning and protect us from insecurity, misery, insignificance, guilt, and meaninglessness. Finally, religion provides us with the means we need to make sure they do. All other cultural meanings and means take their rightful place only in relation to those of religion.

The most important religion in Olympia and the world is Olympianity: the worship of the six gods of politics, war, technology, sex, money, and consumption. Olympianity provides the core meanings of our culture. Because of that, it also provides the core meanings of our society and of all the organized groups in our society. Because of that, it finally provides the core meanings of every individual’s Olympian personality.

Meaningful nonconformity involves challenging these gods of Olympianity. It means challenging the beliefs, values, and norms of an Olympianity tightly organized around these gods. It means shaking the foundations of our society and culture. It means questioning the Olympian identity of family members, closest friends, and even ourselves.

Societies, organized social groups, and other individuals do not enjoy having their gods challenged. To prevent this, there are carefully identified ways of dealing with nonconformists.

One way of discouraging misfits is by rewarding conformity. The more we conform with the will of the Olympian gods, the more others in our society and our smaller social groups will reward us with political power, material wealth, high esteem, praise, and gratitude.

The other way of discouraging misfits is by punishing them. The more we devote ourselves to the one odd god, the more others will make life difficult for us. They may ignore us or ridicule us, yell at us, shun us, hurt us financially, or finally physically injure or kill us.

The rewards of conformity are pleasant; the punishments, quite unpleasant. To gain the first and avoid the second, we conform. Because, in our day, the demands for conformity have increased in rigor, our desire to conform has grown desperate.

Yet this desperate conformity limits our understanding of the truth that sets us free to love and leads us into fullness of life. Like our inescapable simplicity of mind and bias toward ourselves and against others, this third limitation on truth confronts us with quite a challenge.

Copyright © 2013 by Steven Farsaci.
All rights reserved. Fair use encouraged.