Chapter Twelve


The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself. - Friedrich Nietzsche

Who would you be if you were born in a different place, at a different time, to different people? How much of what you are, and what you do, actually comes from you, rather than imitation of what you have seen and heard? Is it merely coincidence that most people dress, act, think, and speak like everyone else they associate with?

I have known people from all walks of life, drill instructors, doctors, lawyers, construction workers, truck drivers, priests, etc., who live their lives as if playing a role, even when not engaged in their occupation. College, career, marriage, children, home remodels and upgrades are all dutifully performed or acquired, and the script dutifully followed, until the body finally gives out.

When pre-prescribed duties are not being performed, a variety of conformist, corporate entertainment is available to fill the gaps. Hollywood films, professional sporting events, amusement theme parks, and of course, banal television programming are all useful to ensure that no time is spent in original or subversive thought.

If all of your time and consciousness is spent either performing rote activities, or passively absorbing mass produced artificial experiences, there is not much left of you. The person who spends his life thinking others’ thoughts and fulfilling others’ expectations doesn’t really exist as an individual. He is just another manufactured human, playing a role which someone else has written.

There is more to life than working to feed the consumer culture. More than watching programming and sporting events designed to keep us entertained and docile, more than raising the next generation of saps to continue the cycle. Much, much more.

Freeing yourself of the complicated mess is not a process of adding to the programming you have already obtained. It is a matter of dismantling the programming, seeing it for what it really is. Traveling to new lands, experimenting with new ideas, and questioning your existing prejudices and preferences are excellent starting points. There is no freedom in being a copy. The imagined authority of the tribe cannot control the person who dares to break free.

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