The following is a post written by my daughter, Rebekkah. Recently, she attended a leadership conference in New Mexico, and was introduced to the hypocrisy that pervades so much of our society these days. Wait until she works in her first corporate office!! She ain’t seen nothing yet…..
Exceptional-ism Borne of Uniformity
“I’ve recently been reading the books of W. Somerset Maugham. They are wonderful. Their best qualities, in my opinion, are the striking and unusual characters. Full of contradictions, they are at once completely original and yet utterly commonplace. You might meet anyone of them in the line at a continental breakfast at some hotel or chasing their dog through a parking lot. But it is only through certain eyes that we can be made to recognize the beauty of such everyday people.
Most recently, I’ve been reading The Moon and Sixpence. The narrator of the story is fascinated with a stockbroker that gave up his quaint, well-ordered life in his late forties to become a starving artist. The man encountered numerous obstacles and sacrificed himself and those around him in his dedication to the passion that drove him to put paint to canvas. The character expressed none of that concern with image so common to human kind. He saw no reason to take in to account the opinions of others, and this bothered the narrator to no end. He was convinced that somewhere in there, the artist must have that aversion to poor opinion that was so much a part of civilization. And yet, the artist felt only the driving urge to create whatever vision seemed locked inside of him.
While we would imagine that such a man would come to fame and fortune, in fact he died alone, with most who had viewed his paintings sure that this man had made an utter mess of life. But after his death, his genius was finally realized.
Such people are few and far between. While it is likely true that the concern for one’s reputation or appearance is important to the functioning of society, it is equally true that such rare outliers are necessary to catalyze society into the next phase. History is sprinkled with such characters, those brave souls that defied conventional wisdom in search of some truth. Men like Galileo or Martin Luther, reaping the consequences of an adherence to the truth that cows the rest of us.
I recently had the fortune to meet such a person. She and I are members of the Honor’s Society for two year colleges, Phi Theta Kappa. The only requirement for entrance is a GPA above 3.5. It sounds fancy, but I assure you it is not. I recently attended an event they put on and I found myself unimpressed with the majority of the attendees. The world is overrun with difficulties-global warming, violent ideologies, pollution, economic uncertainty, etc., etc.- and these kids were primarily concerned with unhappy home lives or deciding between doctor or lawyer. That’s not to say that they were unintelligent, only that their world was very small. They certainly were not concerned with being the change they hoped to see in the world.
And then here was this girl. There was in her movement the enthusiasm and freedom of childhood, and she had a charming disregard for her tidiness. Her opinions were well-formed and carefully considered, and her hope is to contribute to the efforts of the United Nations by writing international legislation. Here, wrapped up in one unusual bundle, were all my hopes for the future of humankind.
It takes such a person to achieve anything great. They must be immune to the disdain of their fellows, unwilling to be deterred by the absence of recognition. It seemed to me that no one could miss the importance of such character, and that certainly this organization, all educational organizations, would do all they could to foster such raw potential.
I was mistaken. Upon arriving home, she was suspended from her post as regional president. When she spoke of this to me, her greatest anguish was her inability to finish the work she’d begun, the work she’d hoped to do for her school and her community. They had accused her of sexual misconduct, citing the presence of her husband in her room and a photo of her with her knees open. She showed me the picture. Aside from her bare head, the dress she wore would have been appropriate in any Muslim country, covering everything but her hands and head. The parted knees were part of the crouch to be the lower level of a group picture.
Behold said graphic photo:
It soon became clear that the organization had discovered details of her private life with which they took exception. In considering her source of income, admittedly not for the faint of heart, I see an entrepreneur and a savvy business-woman; they see a deviant. In considering her artistic endeavors, I see a satirical observer of the absurdities of society; they see pornography. At every opportunity they projected their own archaic and small-minded biases on a person who has the potential to achieve anything. For this, I consider them fools. If these organizations exist to foster such potential, they certainly do a good job of hiding it.
It goes without saying that I will be leaving this organization. Shortly after I met this girl, I found that she had a cause similar to mine. Mine is the second thought; I feel that most people may avoid ignorant assumptions if only they considered a thing twice. This situation is certainly evidence of that. Hers was the immorality of the politics of respectability. The idea that people so often judge based on the way a person looks or speaks, and that this must be overcome in order to recognize character regardless of aesthetic appeal. She was, before my eyes, a victim of that very ignorance.
If we insist on following people who think and feel as everyone else, we will never change. And five minutes on any news station in any country must certainly convict any thinking individual that change is the only thing that might save us from the many catastrophes befalling us. My hope now is that people will not be so blind that they turn their mouth from the medicine that will save them, simply because they don’t care for the smell”.
Unlike Rebekkah, my longer time dealing with this kind of thing has made me almost immune to the shock and disappointment she experienced. Considering this a community college honor society, I’m pretty sure the rejection by leadership isn’t going to damage this girl’s chances of …. well, her chances to do anything, ever, really. It is, after all, a community college society.
I have worked in corporate America, and I’ve seen management Machiavelli themselves into positions where they could shove unwanted employees out the door without reprisal, and this smacks of the same thing, only way more amateurishly done. That picture isn’t pornographic; the girl’s husband did not spend the night in her room, nor did they make out lewdly in the presence of others.And most telling is the fact that the husband, also a member of this society, was not summoned to answer for being in her room. Wouldn’t he be just as culpable as she? These were mere excuses so that this girl could be summoned and dismissed because she wasn’t who they wanted representing them. I think we all can guess why. People who fall in line with the status quo will never amount to anything great. It takes those who are willing to question something everyone else has blindly accepted who help us progress.
Remember, Lucifer had 2/3 of the angels on his side and he still got his ass bounced out of heaven. The common public opinion isn’t always the right one. Don’t follow anything or anyone just because everyone else is.