11 December 2011

The Social Contract

How many of you have ever not done something because people would have looked at you funny?  Scratched your junk, danced, giggled at something that tickled you, etc.?

How many people have told little white lies or said something to make someone else feel better because that's what is expected of you but may not necessarily be the truth?

These are examples of the social contract.  The social contract is what we all as a society tend to live by for fear of being ostracized, to make the gears run smoothly, to avoid conflict and a multitude of other reasons. 

Now the reason I mention the social contract is because it is an inherent part of culture, any culture.  No matter where you travel or what home you find yourself in, every new situation or group of people has a culture. 

We are all constrained by the culture that we exist in from moment to moment.  It's a simple statement of fact.  There are certain actions that we perform within our own homes, out of the public eye because it's culturally unacceptable.  There's a certain decorum we're expected to adopt (within a spectrum) in public because that is what is culturally acceptable.

I mention this to make this point, we are constantly bemoaning and mourning that there are no great innovators, thinkers, or artists of our time.  I think a large part of this is because as a society, we don't really cherish and encourage individuality, originality, and creativity like we say we do.  We like to say we do, but not really.  In our schools, children are expected to stick to a highly regimented schedule were there is very little time to dream, to be creative, to be children.  From a young age, children are indoctrinated into a culture that has very strict standards for behavior, dress, speech, even thinking.

When we think of the great thinkers and innovators of the past, most of the time they went against the societal grain.  They were odd, socially awkward, didn't tend to follow societal norms and were great.  Some were prodigies from a young age because they weren't stifled by the constraints of the society in which they lived. 

So in short, I say this:  if you want people to be great, give them the opportunities and don't get your goddamned panties in a twist if some dude or chick scratches their junk in public.  They may have had a sudden epiphany on how to finish Mozart's requiem and they just hit the kettledrum. 

Be a little bit more flexible in your expectations of people and know that in order to be great, people have to think differently, they have to be given the room and time and opportunity to daydream.  They need to be inspired.  What's inspiring about living and automaton-like existence dictated by an abstract, intangible construct such as the social contract?

1 comment:

  1. oh dude, you know how much I agree with you on this and I can tell you my kid probably isn't gonna fit in with the societal grain. I didn't, still don't and I'm ok with that. (Most) Rules were meant to be broken, if we all live within what society (whoever the fuck they are) deems acceptable we will stagnate and disintegrate. What makes genius so great is that it very rarely follows the norms. Break some rules, be a little daring, don't just have vanilla (no offense to vanilla because it's tasty) pudding for the rest of your life.