Who Are We?

Throughout the course of our lifetimes we are told we are individuals, unique snowflakes, special... the list goes on with a range of similar comparisons. Certainly we have a number of minor differentiations among ourselves that do contribute to no two people being completely identical, but to base the aforementioned ideologies on something so miniscule is no different than to say that no two coffee beans are identical due to the slightest of variations in texture, color, flavor, or even the simple fact they did not grow in the exact same location at the exact same time. In short, proclaiming that individualism is valued and embraced in a Society where nonconformity to social norms is met with civil or criminal sanctions and, further teaching that we are all unique individuals while still expecting said conformity, is hypocritical at best and potentially harmful at worst.

So, who... or what... are we?

First and foremost, we have to acknowledge that there is not a clear-cut, simple answer to such a question. After all, if there were we would have discovered it long ago. The main point that I want to address is simple: we are not the unique, special, "there is not anyone else like me" individuals that our Society makes us think we are. Try wearing something in public that the majority of people disagree with and you'll experience firsthand what I mean. Even better, try speaking up for an individuals' right to choose how to live their own life regarding a "controversial" issue such as abortion, polygamy, religious expression that does not fall in line with the majority, or even something as simple as who to call family and who to simply call a friend. Take it a step further and ask a random person what they think of sexual activity outside of marriage, or between consenting friends who have no "stronger relationship" among them.

Every act of expression that a person partakes in that does not conform to the social standard, every act that could be considered an act of individualism, is met with negativity or disdain by most. Dare to suggest that we actually look at the needs of other people, such as true health care reform or removing a tyrant from power, or something as logical as scrapping the defunct tax system currently in place and implementing a change that would not only increase income for the existence of the government but also decrease expenses (i.e., the use of a flat sales tax on all products instead of the convoluted income tax system). But I digress...

The simple fact is that we are raised in a manner that attempts to keep us in line with social norms while preaching that we should embrace individual uniqueness, and yet when that individualism goes just far enough out of sync with the majority we reel the offender back in line.

This leaves us with a burning question that few consider: who are we? We are a product of what socialization has made us. We are beings capable of rational thought and irrational feelings taught to keep both in line with established traditions for the sake of maintaining order, and that maintenance of order is bred out of fear that allowing any practice that questions tradition is the work of some supernatural being commonly referred to as the devil in Christianity.

Instead of squandering our ability to think, our ability to learn, and our ability to have unique experiences, we should embrace those things that allow us to be unique. There are only a couple of simple rules every action should take into consideration:

  • Will this harm anyone or infringe on another persons' right to live their life as they see fit?
  • Does this require some form of governance to ensure that the above rule is maintained?
Let's use an example, and one that is controversial to those who count themselves among conservatives. Should prostitution be legalized? Consider the argument, as expressed below:
  • Will this harm anyone or infringe on another persons' right to live their life as they see fit?

    One fear is, naturally, the spread of sexually transmitted disease. This is an issue easily addressed through regulation, specifically the requirement of necessary medical checkups on a weekly basis. Another fear is the thought of someone being forced into prostitution, and though it is a valid concern it is also easily addressed through education. As long as people understand their right to choose, and they understand that if someone attempts to force them into such a lifestyle they have recourse, then the problem is addressed before it actually becomes a problem. Further defining the legality of prostitution as being a choice only available to adults of legal age and providing criminal penalties for those attempting to break the law would also be appropriate.
  • Does this require some form of governance to ensure that the above rule is maintained?

    Obviously, in this case, the answer is yes, as outlined above.
Given those thoughts, what makes the act of choosing to make a profit for having sexual relations with another consenting adult a crime? Further, why is such a choice frowned upon when it is not something that forced upon any other person? The key point is, of course, the freedom of a person to choose how to live their own life, which is something we work hard at, as a Society, to put an end to on a daily basis.

So we return to our question once more, in an effort to provide a full definition: who, or what, are we?

We are a group of living, thinking, emotional beings that strive, in every conceivable manner, to claim we are individuals that have the right to live freely in a Society where doing so works diligently to provide the facade of such freedom existing. This means, in layman's terms, we are nothing more than livestock capable of rational thought. Or perhaps an even better analogy, is that we are nothing more than sheep able to think for themselves but only act in accordance with what the other sheep say we can or cannot do.

We are hypocrites.