“You don’t get harmony when everybody sings the same note.” Doug Floyd
Maybe almost being 4…0… is the reason for my topic today. I’m tired, I’m sick of it and I’m done! Conformity surrounds us and I am saddened that most of the world knows nothing else. Up until the age of 35 neither did I and I never thought outside the box that much. I went with the flow and always did what others expected of me. I even remember as a child never questioning a grown-up, and always settling with whatever response I got. I never “rocked” the boat and hated conflict. I always said yes because I did not want to upset anyone or lose any friends. How freaking sad and pathetic is that? Don’t get me wrong, I was and still am stubborn but the “guilt” always got the best of me and I surrendered.
As a child most of us do not even notice what is happening. The everyday conditioning of our parents, teachers and other adults are embedded into our thoughts. Their beliefs and views are filled into our brains. No wonder around the age of 16 or so we are angry and argue and disagree with what are parents are lecturing us about! Our parents do not understand us and call us unruly or hormone stricken. Hmm….maybe we are sick of being conditioned to their opinions and beliefs and are naturally arguing because conformity is an UNNATURAL characteristic?
As a parent now I catch myself here and there having conversations with my kids and feeling “my way” is the right way. Could I cop out and blame it on conditioning? Have I begun the conforming process on Avery and Rocco? Well, no I am not going to blame it on my conditioning and yes I have begun a little “conforming” process unknowingly. What I do have in my favor is now I do know what I am doing and I am AWARE! I am choosing to be more aware when I have life lessons or conversations with my kids. I want them to think outside the box and I want them to go against the grain. Of course if harm or unkindness was part of their “solution” to something, I would suggest a more positive way. I need to remember this is their journey and I have no control over it unless I choose to keep conditioning them. If I do that now, I know I will be in for a long haul with battles and wars in my house later. I do not need to be right nor am I right half the time. I do not have to “win” any argument with them.
“And what is a good citizen? Simply one, who never says, does or thinks anything that is unusual. Schools are maintained in order to bring this uniformity up to the highest possible point. A school is a hopper into which children are heaved while they are still young and tender; therein they are pressed into certain standard shapes and covered from head to heels with official rubber stamps.” H.L. Mencken
When I read this quote my heart became sad. The quote is nothing but truth and remarkably on track. I will never forget the day my son had his first full day of school. Before that he was in kindergarten and I volunteered a lot in his class and Avery’s. There were some days I was there all day with her class and Rocco would have to stay with me. Well each time when I pulled a long day of volunteering we would sometimes have to walk by the lunchroom during lunch. My little five year olds face would turn green. He could literally not stand the smell of the lunchroom. At first I laughed and thought it was funny. My laughter stopped that first full day of school. I decided to stay at school that day to help out and when lunchtime came I almost cried seeing all of these little first graders coming into the cafeteria with green faces and big tears in their eyes. I must have hugged and rubbed 20-30 kids backs that day. They were lost, scared and the teachers were not being patient with their situations and using their loud voices to begin the “conforming” process in the lunch room. Two years later these kids all look like little soldiers and I still hear the same teacher’s using their powerful voices breaking these kids down. I do not see any way of changing this, since in school, “conformity” is the method.
I just know when my kids are at home I tell them to use their voice and strength to speak up if they do not feel comfortable in a situation or they disagree strongly with someone else’s opinion (even if it is a adult). I believe this whole respect thing is another control mechanism. Why do kids have to agree with grownups? Why do kids have to call an adult Mr. or Mrs.? Why can’t kids have their own opinions and call me Sandi? Our EGO’s have filled us with the “ALMIGHTY ATTITUDE.” Sorry, I got off track there. Respect is another topic for another time.
“Just because something is tradition doesn’t make it right.” Anthony J. D’Angleo, The College Blue Book
So what if I have Chinese food on thanksgiving and turkey on Chinese New Year? We all need to stop thinking that turkey on thanksgiving is right and anything other than that is wrong! I hope you know that was just an example of how conformity can affect us. It’s okay to go against all the things that we were brought up with and utilize our own ideas. Honestly we need to stop doing things because that’s the way we were brought up and it just seems right. This may have been right and worked for you but may not work for your kids. Just try to understand this and be patient if your child resists.
Please, please if you have children teach them how to be a strong and independent thinker. Don’t let your feathers get ruffled if they have an opinion with their teachers, peers or even grandparents. Kids should not only be seen but also HEARD! I will be a happy and proud mom when or if either of my kids stand out, speak up and not care about looking like everyone else or caring what others think about them! I am leaving you with several quotes I enjoyed about conformity. Peace……
*”My theory is that the hardest work anyone does in life is to appear normal.” From the movie Ed TV
“One dog barks at something, and a hundred bark at the bark.” Chinese Proverb
“You laugh at me because I am different; I laugh because you are all the same.” Daniel Knode
“Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new.” Thoreau
“If everyone is thinking alike then somebody isn’t thinking.” George S. Patton
“If you believe everything you read, you better not read.” Japanese Proverb
The most damaging phrase in the language is: “It’s always been done that way.” Grace Hopper
“Fashion is what you adopt when you don’t know who you are.” Quentin Crisp
“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it- even if I have said it- unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.” Buddha
“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery…None but ourselves can free our minds.” Bob Marley
“if you don’t control your mind someone else will.”John Allston
“If you keep doing things like you’ve always done them, what you’ll get is what you’ve already got;” Author Unknown
“The surest way to corrupt youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.” Friedrich Nietzsche