So here I go. Stepping up now...
Something that bugs me more than most things (I would say more than anything in the world, but that changes with the day, so I have to be careful) is when people don't think for themselves. I used to be one of those people.
This isn't to say that I was a pushover (definitely not), but I definitely didn't question things as much as I should have. Sure, there wasn't a lot of need to question the things I learned from teachers over the years, but I feel almost embarrassed when I look back and realize how easily I believed something just because it came form the mouth of someone who had some sort of power over me.
During my freshman year of college, I lived in a co-op with 43 other people, mostly freshman. While I loved them, and many are still near and dear to me, my biggest problem with was the ease with which they accepted the things said by the house director and house owners.
If there was a new rule instated, rather than say, "Hey, why did this happen? Isn't this our house too? Shouldn't we have a say in this?", the student leaders helped enforce it.
I was a student leader at the house, and expected to call people out if they were breaking rules, but as the year wore on and I started thinking more independently, I couldn't for the life of me figure out why I was helping enforce rules that I didn't agree with.
I didn't completely rebel, but it was soon made known how I felt about certain rules and regulations that I was expected to enforce. This led to discussions with the house leadership, where a compromise was reached: I wouldn't break the rules I didn't agree with, but I wouldn't actively enforce them either. Basically, I would be following the rules, but looking the other way if someone were to break one in my presence.
Not exactly a great compromise, and not exactly the effect I was hoping to achieve in my first real anti-establishment moment...but it had to do for the time being.
I ended up moving out at the end of the year rather than live there again. I couldn't stand the idea of going through another year following rules I didn't agree with, and I didn't think I could maintain my sanity while watching my friends happily follow rules they didn't agree with because it was easier than confronting anyone, or watching my friends not even question why certain rules existed when I know that if they would have stopped for a second to think about it they would have seen how ridiculous it was.
I realized that a big problem that my friends had, and that we as people face, is believing something because someone tells us that's the way it is. A lot of the time, we don't even think about it. We don't question it. We just hear it, consider it briefly (though often this step is omitted), and move on with our lives without giving anything a second thought.
I think that this needs to change.
I see so many people around me turning into carbon copies of their friends, their parents - the people they look up to, the people whose approval they crave. They hear what they think on an issue, and rather than thinking for even a moment on what their stance is, they have agreed with them.
We give too many people in our lives the power to make our important decisions for us. For some reason, we value the opinions of others over our own. For some reason, we believe that thinking will take too much effort. For some reason, we have no problem being like everyone else. (Read this post if you want to hear me rant and rave about this subject...I'm trying to stay on topic for once in my life!)
And that, my friends, is one of my biggest problems.
People are afraid to think for themselves. I still haven't figured out exactly why that is. I find thinking to be a wonderful activity. I get something in my head, turn it over and over, examining it from every angle. I come up with new ideas, try to figure out how it relates to other things in my life. I turn it over again, I examine it from every angle again...often I end up right where I started, exhausted and overwhelmed by my thought process.
And then I pick it right back up again.
Because independent thinking is necessary. We can't live our lives accepting whatever comes our way. At some point, it's necessary to fight back. This isn't to say that we can't agree with people. By all means, agree with people! But don't be afraid to disagree with them either.
Don't be afraid to challenge people's views, your own views. Don't be afraid to shake things up, to make changes. It's only through thinking outside of what we're told and outside of what we know that we can ever learn anything.
And isn't that really what life is all about?
Buddha once said, "Believe nothing just because a so-called wise person said it. Believe nothing just because a belief is generally held. Believe nothing just because it is said in ancient books. Believe nothing just because it is said to be of divine origin. Believe nothing just because someone else believes it. Believe only what you yourself test and judge to be true."
It's worth considering.
Stepping off my soapbox now...but really. Think about it.