By way of explanation: I offer up this new post as an addendum to my prior post ‘What’s on your Plate’. I really don’t expect anyone to take up my lifestyle based on these blog posts. And the last thing I am trying to do is to persuade anyone that my lifestyle is in any way better or more productive than theirs. I’m just describing what works for me, and maybe more importantly what doesn’t. We (and I include myself) spend an awful lot of time judging others beliefs and actions, without necessarily spending a commensurate amount of time evaluating and judging our own beliefs and actions. I’ve mentioned many times that this blog is a cathartic exercise for me—it allows me to think and organize my thoughts more clearly.
When I refer to ‘Tight-ass Americans’ I am not singling anyone out, but I am referring to a collective, typically American, psyche that seems to be getting more pervasive. The apparent need for many to make decisions for their fellow human beings. I personally rebel against that tendency—I strive to make my own decisions, and to live with their consequences. Often my decisions have been poor, and have led to negative consequences for me and others. But I have learned, for the most part, to live with those consequences and to take responsibility for them. We hopefully learn from our mistakes, but often we don’t. It is part of life.
One of our God-given rights, as human beings, is: Free will. Even if that free will proves self-destructive at times, it is still our free will. However, free will exercised without personal responsibility and accountability is hypocrisy. I can’t expect to make poor decisions, and then have society bail me out. But when I take full responsibility for my actions and their consequences, then I reserve the right to make those decisions for myself. It is called self-determination. And it’s one of the founding principles our country was originally built upon. Too many of us have abdicated our free will, our self-determination, to: Big-religion, big-government, big-business and society-at-large. My prior post wasn’t about smoking vs non-smoking or drinking vs non-drinking. It was about my right to make those decisions for myself, just as it’s your right to make those very same decisions for yourself.
I reserve the term ‘Tight-ass American’ for those who, for whatever reason(s), feel compelled to dictate to others how they are to live their lives. What to believe, how to act, how to live for the betterment of society as a whole. That mindset is an anathema to me. Yes, it may be selfish and self-serving, but it is my right. My choices may not be your choices, but I have the right to make them—and society has the right to expect that I will take responsibility for them and accept the consequences of those choices. And, by the way, not all of the choices I make are bad. In fact I make many more good decisions than I do bad ones. Nuff said on the subject I suppose. Thank you for indulging me. SFD
Part of this blog’s mission statement is to provoke. Not necessarily to persuade, but to provoke serious thought that goes beyond a mere knee-jerk reaction. These provocations are often presented tongue-in-check, but with an underlying serious premise. I know it pisses people off at times, and I can appreciate that—but if along with that righteous anger comes some serious pondering of the subject at hand then hopefully I’ve succeeded.
The nonconformist has always pissed his fellow beings off. It’s the nature of the beast. The human animal is hardwired to be a social critter, and most comfortably operates within a herd, pack or clan environment. The nonconformist is perceived as a threat to that collective convivial group dynamic (and maybe he is). He is a disruptive force that upsets the status quo. He is to be avoided, shunned, ridiculed and excised by the group (as a whole) at all cost. He is the poster child for the label Loner. He abhors: Go along to get along.
I will accept the label of Loner with pride. I do not want to be part of the group, willingly or otherwise. I am that strange anomaly: The human beast that is not social. There are reasons for this. And I know the origins of most of them. And I am okay with that. And I will be the first to admit that I do not conform to society’s definition of normal, nor do I have any plans to do so in this lifetime. But along with this knowledge comes a certain, and very real, responsibility: If one shuns society and the support of his fellow humans, then one must be willing to shun its benefits.
The obvious rebuttal goes something like this: If we don’t cooperate as a species our civilization cannot continue to progress. My answer to this statement is to question civilization and progress. I see no real evidence of either. But in taking this stance it is incumbent upon me to take full responsibility for my actions and their consequences. If I choose not to actively participate in society, I cannot rightly argue that society has an obligation to take care of me. If I choose to be the sole determiner of my destiny, then I have to be accepting of the consequences (whatever they may be) and not whine about how life is not fair. I am more than willing to accept that tradeoff.
I know that my stance is idealistic and unrealistic for most. In today’s world it is almost impossible to completely divorce yourself from society, but to the extent that I can—I will. I do not live on entitlements or the goodwill of others. I’ve earned what little I have through a lifetime of hard work (including Social Security). Nothing has been given to me. And I expect the same from you—I don’t want to be responsible for your plight in life. My political leanings are more Libertarian in flavor, but again Libertarianism really doesn’t work for large masses of people. As the old adage goes: You can’t expect to be a Libertarian and still want the potholes fixed. And I agree with that. As an individual I can either fix the pothole myself, or live with the pothole as it is. A large industrialized population cannot do that—and I don’t see the human race stepping back to tribalism anytime soon.
However, its been my experience that the smaller indigenous tribal units tend to thrive in the areas of happiness and life-satisfaction, whereas the larger industrial societies tend to falter in those very same areas. Bigger is not better, more does not equal happiness, majority does not equal right. Scientific and technological achievement does not necessarily equal civilization or progress.
I am a nonconformist, I am a Loner. I don’t want society’s laws, rules, constraints and judgements. I don’t want to be taken care of. I don’t want my decisions to be made for me. It is my life, and I want to live it my way—with all of the risk that entails. To live a life without risk is like eating a meal without salt & pepper—there is no spice. I am willing to accept the consequences of this lifestyle, positive or negative. I do not expect you to take care of me, I will take care of myself through the efforts of my own hard work, and when I can no longer do that then it will be time for me to leave this world for another, and I will do that willingly and with a grateful smile on my face. To live in fear and conformity is to live in a prison of your own making, at least for me.
I understand that this declaration of freedom pisses a lot of you off, but I am no threat to you. You outnumber me a thousand to one. I am not telling you how to live your life, please give me the courtesy of not telling me how to live mine. Don’t tell me what god to worship, don’t tell me what vices to avoid, don’t tell me what to think or how to act—if I commit violent acts against you then simply eliminate me. My lifestyle has minimum impact upon you and yours. Maybe this latest provocation will cause you to reevaluate any possible judgements you may have now or in the future, or maybe not.
Anecdote: Back in my banking days our corporate leaders (and I use that phrase sarcastically) would engage us in team building exercises. One exercise, in particular, would put us in a survival situation so we could develop a consensus around a survival plan. When asked for my input I would confide that I was striking out on my own, and that they were free to follow if they wished, but that I hoped they wouldn’t. This says more about me than them. Corporations like to say that consensus provides a better result than individual thought (that the sum is greater than its parts). It’s crap—knowledge, confidence and determination trumps consensus every time. And where those traits come into play I trust myself more than anyone else. Especially where my personal survival is at stake.