Me the Individual?

This post is adapted from a talk I gave a little over a year ago.  I didn’t change the timeline, and for the purposes of today’s post, it’s irrelevant.  I have been receptive recently to the reminder that we create our own destiny, that our life is what we make it, we may be a compilation of the 5 people we hang around the most, however, they don’t define, us we are unique individuals, and only we know what fire burns deep within our souls.  SO take what you like, leave the rest, and become the best YOU.

Last night I was privileged to spend the evening watching one of my favorite bands, Social Distortion.  For those of you who don’t know they have been playing since 1979, and are a bunch of old punk rockers.  This tour was a special event for them because it was the 25th anniversary of their self-titled album and they played that album in its entirety.  Which was awesome, I danced my butt off.

Mike Ness (the lead singer) told a few stories about 25 years ago, and different life incidents that inspired some of his writing.  What stuck out in my mind the most, was when he spoke to how 25 years ago suddenly there were “rules” for what was and was not punk rock.  He said, “I told them to Fuck Off!”  I think that just makes him even more authentic.

To me, the punk culture has always been about being your authentic self, having the freedom of self-expression and ignoring the social norms, OR “social rules”.  Why should I own this car and wear that shirt or shop at this store, because that is what everyone else does.  Why should some entity such as society, the government or anything else tell me what to eat, where to work and how to live my life? YOU DON”T KNOW ME!!!!!

That is the theme of punk culture.  It is my life. I am going to live it the way I want.  America used to be a free country where people were given the opportunity to choose their own destiny.  We could choose to work long hours, be a slave to our jobs, buy gigantic houses and sail on luxury yachts.  OR We could live in a small house or apartment work a designated number of hours, and use our free time, to see the world, farm, explore our inner creativity.  BUT it was our decision.

Somewhere, in recent history, a group of people got together and decided, the American dream is something along the lines of a suburban house with 2.5 kids, a mini-van and weekend soccer games.  Then this farce was forced into advertising and became a pervasive plague on our culture.  I am proud to say: NOT FOR ME!  My dream is different than yours, and yours is different than the next guys.  That difference in opinion, that difference in thought, that difference in life goal, is what used to make this country great, we were allowed to be ourselves, and it was amazing.

Today, even the “be yourself” punk culture expects you to act, dress or be a certain way, conforming to the years of garbage rammed down our collective throats from every direction imaginable.  I like to think of myself as an individual, but the unfortunate truth is I am not really.  I live where I do because of resale value and convenience.  I dress the way I do, so I don’t offend other people and so I “fit in” at my job.  I censor nearly every conversation I have because: 1. I believe we are always being watched/recorded and 2. In general, society is too self-absorbed to even have a conversation where two people might disagree, and we don’t want to make the effort anyway.  In the rare event two people actually have a conversation that winds up in a disagreement; people generally resort to name calling and hostilities or just drop the subject entirely.

Have people forgotten how to use their minds to think critically?  Why can’t we even have a conversation?

If each person made one truly independent decision each day, or even just started looking at their life constructively, asking themselves, hey! is this really me? OR Do I even see myself with all this societal clutter?  What do I want with my life?  What are MY hopes, dreams, fears?

If each person was actively engaged, what would our world look like?



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