Conformity is the enemy of the soul

Recently I read a letter of resignation from a long-time teacher who finally had enough of the system telling him he basically had to treat his students as if they were nothing more than an assembly line of open brains to be fed the same information in the same way. The idea that not only students should be treated as unique beings, each with unique needs, but that every teacher can better serve the educational system by teaching in their own, unique, style — was no longer accepted. The job of the teacher was to force Tab A into Slot B at all cost.

It should be clearly obvious that such a means of education would not only fail, but does a complete injustice to one of the most important pieces of the human puzzle — education. But what this also points out is something a bit darker and the conspiracy streak in me has glommed onto something I think most certainly worth sharing.

Conformity is the enemy of the soul.

If you’ve ever spent any time within the business world, you know what I’m talking about. I call it the “Shirt Tucker Nation”. It’s a wash of beige and blue and the idea of individuality is scorned at all costs. It’s not just in how you conduct business, but how you present yourself within the business environment. And from day one of business school, you are taught that there is truly no “I in team”.

Students are now spending their formative educational years learning they must be the same as the person to their left. Do not stand out, do not strive to be unique, do not let them know your thoughts and ideas vary in any way.

It’s deeply embedded in our school systems, our businesses, our churches, our government.

That’s right — even our government.  Even the tax and insurance systems are set up such that the individual must overcome obstacles to succeed.

But this is old news — right? Why would anyone need to hop onto this rotting equine corpse and flail it a bit more? Because it needs to be shouted from the highest of highs as often as possible — until people understand that individuality is one of the truly wonderful traits that makes us human.

I should back track just a bit and speak of why I decided to slip on my shoes with soles made of Soap Box (outside of the original inspiration being that brilliant resignation letter). It happened when I previewed the new self-titled Paramore album. Yes, I admit, I’ve been a fan of theirs for a while (I have fairly eclectic taste); and when the new release came out, I was shocked that they had lost their “edge”. But more than that — they sounded like Katie Perry.  Stripped away was the post-punk feeling so many of their songs had, only to be replaced with watered-down, radio-friendly tunes that could as easily be piped into malls and muzak. They opted to lose what made them uniquely them and opt for what made everyone else, well, the same.

I’ve come into this same issue in the publishing industry. What tends to be considered a hit is the same as it ever was. Those things the masses can consume without challenging their boundaries, their thoughts, their beliefs.

Those of you who know me, know that I have never been, nor ever will fall in line with the “beige and blue”.

So for anyone that follow me (and bless your wonderful, unique hearts for that), I want you to know that I will always and forever be me. I will never sell out, shut up, or allow what makes me unique to be forced aside for any reason. And I know, full well, that every member of the Dark Hayride will honor that which makes them unique and do everything they can to celebrate it.

Be proud, be unique, be you.