Saturday, 25 August 2012

To be free or to conform?

“We all need at times to discover again what is beautiful about ourselves. We stultify our beauty by trying to model ourselves on the images that are set for us by others – the way we think we should look, the way we should feel, the way we should dress, walk and talk.

“If we are to nurture our own particular beauty, we must nourish our bodies with healthy food and drink; nourish our minds with literature, art and good company; nourish our spirits with silence, stillness and prayer. This way we can rid ourselves of anxiety, anger and negativity, and replace them with peace and joy and positive energy.” Sister Stanislaus Kennedy, Gardening the Soul.

In all aspects of our lives today, the pressure to conform is all but overwhelming. It is just not worth the hassle to break conventions of dress, procedures or modes of thought in our places of work. At home at our leisure we are constantly drawn into the stories of politics, economics and personalities as they are presented to us by the electronic media. Even the seemingly spontaneous informality of Facebook and the like has its codes and conventions, offering the illusion of freedom. But it is all illusion. With our iPads and mobiles we are everywhere – and nowhere.
It is, perhaps, through children that we catch glimpses of the truth. As their bodies, minds and spirits are crammed into the classroom of electronic gadgetry the whistle blows – but nobody takes any notice. As parents and grandparents, who dares to hint at the possibility of saying “NO!” on behalf of the child’s future quality of life?
To be free is to claim the right not to conform. But to claim that right one needs more than a passing sense of unease.

To find out why things are the way they are, see the New Home Economics Study Guide (forthcoming).

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