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Resisting the Perils of Conformity
As humans we have a strong need to conform to group rules. We allow ourselves to be influenced by the attitudes, beliefs and behavior of others. Their acceptance or approval gives us a sense of self-worth.
Why do we conform?
1. The human herd instinct thrives on a sense of belonging.
2. The desire for acceptance and approval is strong.
3. It gives us a sense of social mobility through group identity.
4. Not conforming would risk the horror of rejection.
Compared to conformists, the percentage of non-conformists is very small. They are viewed with suspicion or even contempt because they refuse to be crippled by the herd mind or bound by popular beliefs and practices. Whether it’s religion or lifestyles, they stand by what they believe in, regardless of what others think of them. They are often labeled social or antisocial.
How do we fit in?
1. In today’s consumer-centric culture with its ingenious and irresistible marketing campaigns, people crave a lifestyle of acquisitions. Even the older generations are forced to reorient themselves and their values, to fit in with the crowd. Visual bombardment through aggressive advertising of artwork, cosmetics and designer clothing offers status symbols that are hard to ignore.
2. We allow ourselves to be manipulated by the power of money. Self-indulgence and hedonism come naturally to those with excessive wealth. A wallet full of plastic cards gives one a sense of power. No one on this day wishes to suffer from socio-economic or cultural inferiority.
3. We allow our souls to be polluted by pornography, TV junk, Immorality, Drug and Alcohol abuse. Salman Rushdie says, “Porn is essential to freedom, because it mirrors every activity of life.” A hundred years ago, Sigmund Freud had the same opinion. “The only unnatural behavior is not having sex at all.” Nudity and overt sexuality occupy the minds of men and women more than half a century ago. Degradation and depersonalization of gender through loose living, housing and debauchery has a heavy price. Trivializing sex to ridiculous levels by dissecting and discussing every aspect of it in the media has made it look cheap. Chastity is outdated, and voices that once spoke for it are silent. We live in and approve of a libertine society.
4. Women pay the price for following different brands of feminism. They want to live and work like men, smoke to relieve stress, and drink to prove that what men do, they can do better. In the last fifteen years, there has been a threefold increase in female alcoholics. Previously, women had the advantage of a life expectancy of four and a half over men. Today the gap is narrowing due to similar lifestyles. Women do not realize that by masquerading as men they are simply living according to patriarchal values. According to scientists from the Swedish Institute of Public Health, there is a link between equality and poor health. Men are affected by the loss of male privileges, and women’s health is harmed by greater opportunity for risky behavior and the stress of long working hours.
5 Disintegration of the family unit and devaluation of family values. Spouses pursue their ambitions while neglecting the family. A generation of “key” children are growing up without proper parental guidance. They are compensated with gifts and artifices. The Internet and cell phones provide ample fodder for pranksters. Spouses themselves lack commitment to each other. Pecadillos are allowed with a “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
6. The attraction of cults becomes impossible to resist. Teenagers are especially vulnerable to peer pressure. Hard rock music, drugs, alcohol, weird fashions or dirty language give them the acceptance they crave, even if it means disobeying their parents. Adults are attracted to Scientology, New Age attractions or religious cults that create a state of mind where people lose faith in themselves, and surrender their decision-making ability to an external authority. Because of the spiritual vacuum in the world today, people run after spiritual gurus and mediums. It’s stylish to be ‘spiritual’, and scientists, movie stars, famous citizens, media moguls have all jumped on this bandwagon. Science has been extended to include mystical and bizarre experiences, out-of-body travel, astral sojourns, meditation techniques, psychic healing and tarot predictions. They promise the “Age of Aquarius” – a time of peace and mass enlightenment. Cults are powerful and dangerously deceptive. This happened because Man yearns for total autonomy from God.
7 The use of heroic medical technology such as cloning, sex selection, artificial reproduction techniques or euthanasia. Man began to believe that he was God.
The dangers of Conformity are
o Loss of self-image and identity.
o Danger of losing our individuality and becoming clones of each other.
o Lack of ability to make wise and individual decisions.
How to resist the perils of conformity.
1. Man is made in the image of God. He was given intelligence, powers of discretion and free will. We must use these gifts wisely to enhance the image of the Creator within us.
2. Self-esteem comes from having a positive self-image. Each person is unique and capable of making wise and well-informed decisions. A confident person will not look outside themselves for solutions. He is aware that he has the means within himself to take care of his own life. “Self-confidence is the first secret of success,” says Ralph Waldo Emerson.
3. A close relationship with God provides a firm foundation for a stable life. “Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds,” advises St. Paul in Romans 12:2.
4. Cultivate the friendship of people with a healthy, positive outlook on life.
5. Live by healthy gender norms. The world today cannot provide moral guidance because it has a perverted view of sex. God’s standards are solid.
“Can a man take fire to his breast and his clothes not be burned?” asks the writer of Proverbs (6:27)
6. Make your life worthwhile through service to others.
Being confident, and operating with the knowledge that we carry within us the means to distance ourselves from the herd instinct, protects us from the dangers of conformity.
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