Friday, February 15, 2013

The Herd Instinct and the Death of the Individual--Revised

This was an English project, but I liked it, so...why not?

    If ever there is a loss to mourn, it is the loss of self.  The American student who is beginning to emerge into a world of uncertainty, but yet is surrounded by criticisms and pressures, falls particularly vulnerable to such a tragic manifestation of herd behavior.  Rather than surrender his intrinsic beliefs to outside attack, he must learn to doubt that which he hears and is taught, and trust wholeheartedly those revelations of insight that answer.  He must summon the bare facts of life and sing them as a minstrel to his own tune of conjectures, only then can he surmount conformity’s destructive temptations.
    Although schools are institutions built for the betterment of society, society is due a certain precaution.  Intelligence should not be torn and calloused.  As the transcendental Thoreau probes, “the laboring man has not leisure. . . He has no time to be anything but a machine.  How can he remember well his ignorance?”  Just as the body requires rest and rejuvenation to strengthen, so does the developing mind.  Without it, men are ignorant slaves to occupation.  This, in relation to the student, is where the line in the sand must be drawn between schooling and education.
    Schooling is but a method of education, and can only be ascribed to true learning when executed in conservative prescriptions.  Often, endlessly locked in contention with assignments, all for nominal grades, the student is forced to cheat himself from the content of his occupation in return for success.  Here the end goal is misrepresented, and, likewise, the means to that end are adjusted, and ignorance embraced.  The men that result are specimens of Thoreau’s “machines,” thereby stripped of their individual aspirations by industry, and lastingly dismissive of education in its entirety.  In this case, all work and no play make Jack a dull boy.  Without the time and freedom of thought required to enrich God-given talents, the average student becomes a drone for the future, grouped generally with his countless peers.
    Education, contrarily, is a discipline upheld by those whose minds have been preserved in their naturally inquisitive state, with an inclination towards chronic self-betterment.  Characterized by meaningful intellectual gain, true education is the bane of wearisome schooling—a little of what you fancy does you good.  Pursuing and being involved in that which interests you serves both to engage the mind and provide for an overall positive outlook and fruitful work.  In essence, remaining open to learning is in itself success.
    Thoreau’s greater counterpart, Ralph Waldo Emerson agrees plainly that “There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide…”  However, to imitate and envy is easier than spending the appropriate measure of confidence on our own opinions, but often requires us to “take with shame our own opinions from another” willing to make the transaction.  But providing that you are willing enough to make the gamble, “to believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men--that is genius.”  Genius, like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder.
    But in a culture where disparities are shunned, sometimes feared; where popularity and status may unrightfully outweigh intellect; any good Will Hunting may understandably refer to the mass rather than forge a separate path.  What is lost is immeasurable and invaluable.  A conformed individual’s influence in society bears a likeness to a Schrödinger experiment—the tragedy is in the immolated mind, the neglected personality, the card not played.
    Individual consequences are many for those who merely strive for acceptance from their peers.  To be unoriginal and altogether dull and uninteresting is nearly a bona fide suicide in the job market.  In the case of the state of California, according to the Economic Policy Institute for CNN, 1.8 million jobs were needed in 2011 to restore pre-recession economic conditions and keep up with the multiplying population.  Moreover, regardless of how many positions the enterprising Californians create, an influx of job-seeking candidates will spell certain difficulty for the undeveloped resume.  Nationally, with 310 million human inhabitants in 2010, and a projected 439 million in 2050, successful job seekers will be those who stand out from the crowd.
    It will be those that shine with emancipated transcendence that succeed and contribute a cultural legacy.  Stability dissolves occupation, ironically, for it is an occupation that promotes stability.  Productive workers can afford leisure, as compared to those without funds who bear the mental burden of dependence.  Just as Neolithic farmers affected changes in technology and interaction, science and communication, it is he who affords leisure and a relaxed mind who is also the pursuant of pleasures and the father of invention.
    At last, success is but an empty term, a hollow, worthless flask until enough happiness can be mustered to fill it and make it valuable.  In essence, in theory, the individual acquires happiness by retaining himself; and thus it becomes that an appreciation and honor towards one’s self is the first step in finding success.  For each and every one, there are a set of basic, constitutional, infused truths, and their appeasement is vital; for these things—the loves and the passions—have awesome effects on the person, physically and mentally, for good or for bad.  Their suppression, for lack of an output, can cause them to fester, burn, boil, and rot—acids in a wooden ship--, but put them to good use, and the beholder is truly blessed.  Still, take heed!  There are few anomalies in nature that remain constant, most, if not every, vary about an axis.  Even love and faith fall victim; but remain true to yourself, and be arduous in pursuit of yourself and your beliefs, and these things will be strengthened and remain unto you a personal blessing.   
    Uniformity is the enemy of progress and the poacher of minds and souls.  Thus, there is no conformity among students that does not serve to subtract from the promise of the future; for they are the future of our country.  Set aside foolishly mundane measures of success.  Instead, depict your quarry as self-reliance and individualism—happiness, which is the true success. In doing so, your journey throughout life will be characterized by joy and peace; and, when it comes time to die, rejoice in the belief that you have truly lived.

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