Young. Bold. And daring, I didn’t care to conform to the norm. I used to wear two different color sneakers. I believe one was red, the other black. I wore two watches on one wrist and a Felix the cat hat. In university, i got stares, but after a quick look they would continue on their way.
No matter. I didn’t care what people thought. But i did care what people felt.
I don’t think anyone ever asked me why i dressed such.
I was making a statement. Nothing about fashion. It was about not conforming to society. My clothes were to get people to think. But apparently no one got it.
I subscribed to the old adage that parents use to make the children feel guilty or at least hope to make them feel guilty for mimicking a no-no of their friend “If your friend jumped out the window would you do the same?”
Other students also were different, but apparently for another reason – to fit into the cool group. It was cool to be different. But that reason was antithesis to being unique. They were being unique to belong. I was being different to say to the world “Don’t just follow. Be Yourself!”
There was a method to my distinctiveness.
Many years later I find myself alone in my mission. Many of my acquaintances faded away into their own lives. Faded into the background of conformity. Passed that stage of life or just matured. Each one going their own way.
The Problem of Conforming
So what’s so bad about conforming?
Nothing, if you are conforming for the good.
On the other hand conforming can destroy, when many people do the popular, without thought of the long term negative effects.
I mimic my newspaper. I mimic my society. I mimic my work associates. The best way to melt into the melting pot and dissolve your own uniqueness.
For a person to be happy, they must be themselves. In trying to belong they gain friends but lose themselves.
Like a rabbi I know said “If you try to be like others, you are not the other. You are not yourself. You are nobody.”
Strong, but true.
How To Be Me
Being oneself starts with asking questions. The Torah tells you to question.
Is it right? Is it wrong?
Is it good? Is it bad?
Is it good for society or not?
Is it in my best interest?
Is it good for the long term education & upbringing of my kids?
Does it make sense?
Am I accomplishing the good that I can be or am I wasting my time?
Am i being myself? Or am i being a clone?
Am I achieving my purpose? Do I know my purpose?
Am I achieving my potential?
Am I true to myself?
Am I true to my G.d?
Am I fair? Or am I biased?
Do I hate? Why? Is the hate justified? Are my emotions driving my behavior?
Are my thoughts consistent with G-d’s view?
Are my views and actions consistent with Torah halacha / law?
Am I afraid of truth?
Am I afraid of Judaism?
Do I put Judaism into a stereotype of religions?
Is my religion true? How Do I know?
What is the true law of G-d? Why?
Am I being biased by my upbringing, newspapers I read, society I live in?
Do I care? Are my positions rational?
Do I believe in G.d?
Do I recognize the kindness of G.d to me on a daily basis?
Do I recognize my blessings?
Am I consistent?
Am I being me? Or am I just doing the convenient swinging from one branch of pleasure to another going around in circles?
How do I Perceive Myself? How do others Perceive me?
What are others attitudes towards me?
Is my Torah observance correct in the eyes of G.d?
Am I or am I not?
The Torah is the guidepost that G.d gave us to determine if we are achieving.
Truth – the Antidote to Conformity & Secret to Living
What is the path to not conform? It is to do the truth. Many people following religions without thinking fall into the category of conformists. I do it because others do it. Before one does one should see if it makes sense. Is it the right thing to do in the eyes of men & G-d? Liberalism, Capitalism – all the “ism”s can be regarded as a religion. The only one that cannot is following the path of truth and goodness.
Mercy can be cruelty. If one is merciful with a terrorist – he is cruel with the society. Being merciful – is good – if the repercussions are taken into account. But Being merciful – just because one’s heart says so – may lead to cruelty.
Liberalism is letting people do what they want. Yes, that is fine as long as it does not impinge on the long-term good for the society. Who knows what is good for the Society in the long-term? G-d – who wrote the Torah.
Thinking out Your Position Before You Adapt it
Let’s take same gender marriage. G-d says – No for it is forbidden in the Seven Noahide Laws. The US Supreme Court says Yes. In Ancient Rome – same gender relations caused the dwindling of the population that lead to it’s destruction. Lack of population growth lead them to take mercenary soldiers – soldiers that they had to pay from other nations – which lead to their downfall.
But worse than that is same gender relations causes a person to lose his potential. A person’s goal in life is to bring the most good to the world as possible – using his qualities & talents. Part of that is bringing children to the world. Same gender marriages – prevent children from coming into the world. A person who chooses same gender marriage – prevents unique children from coming into the world. Their choice may prevent an Einstein or a Motzart from entering the world. Their choice is in essence selfish – for although they please themselves – they withhold beautiful children from entering into the world.
Those are just some examples.
Abandoning the Religion of Secularism & the Congregation of Conformists
Secularism is a religion. It’s the religion of following whatever is comfortable. It leads to falling to the lowest common denominator. What is acceptable to one group and unacceptable by another becomes acceptable to society. What is unacceptable in one year becomes acceptable the next year – until society falls into the abyss of immorality. That is what happened in Sodom. Giving charity became forbidden.
Truth is not a religion. G-d is truth. The truth He gave is in the Torah. So in reality Judaism is not a religion – it is truth.
When a person puts his mind on hold for what is popular and acceptable – they do disservice to the world. But even more so, they do disservice to themselves. For they veer off the path of what they are to achieve in this world.
Truth – the Secret to Achieving one’s Potential
The first Jew was Abraham. He changed the world because he dared to question. He questioned the rationality of idolatry. He questioned The “righteousness” of sacrificing children. He questioned to determine who is the true G.d of the world.
He was a pillar of Kindness & he always followed truth. He was a beacon of hospitality – whose house was open on four sides to strangers. He reached his potential for doing good through the pursuit of truth and kindness.
Apparently that is the role of the Messiah. He will get the people to think.
In the interim we have the Torah and Torah scholars as guides.
We need an Abraham in this world today.