Social Conformity

social conformitySocial conformity is a type of social influence that results in a change of behavior or belief in order to fit in with a group. Normative conformity occurs because of the desire to be liked and accepted.

Conformity is an essential part of our culture. We have to share our world with one another and have developed apparently democratic ways of doing this in the First World. We have given away our freedom to act any way we might want to, in order to be part of a shared culture.

This suppression of our essential selves in deference to society and authority is at the basis of an interesting trend in the West. Our media based ‘celebrity culture’ allows us to moderate these feelings by transferring them to ‘idols’ of various types who succeed in self-expression.

Conformity involves not asking questions or ‘not rocking the boat’, ignoring things, editing reality and ‘sweeping stuff under the carpet’, especially in English culture. Once you are in a job, with a mortgage, maybe a family, the chances are you have to ‘cut-off’ or ignore a part of yourself that might ask difficult questions, and conform.

After a while a part of us is suppressed and we are offered the distractions of a consumer culture as a reward. We tend to use our lives to try and earn a little more, save a little more, earn the respect of our bosses and the envy of our neighbours.

Our culture subordinates our desire for liberty and expression for the illusion of security and material gain. And a little part of us dies.

It was during the 1960’s and partly due to the work of Abraham Maslow that the whole ‘don’t try and change consensual reality, change your own reality’ movement came about. ‘Turn on, tune in and drop out’ is a cop out. Boycotting consensual reality to work on yourself isn’t enough on its own. During the many years since that people have been ‘developing themselves’ the ‘system’ out there has become more entrenched, more stagnant, more inhumane when it comes down to it.

Now we have global corporations and governments virtually dictating how we live, what we eat, what medicines we are allowed, what we see, read, even think.

The economy is in slow free-fall. Total debts in the UK have passed a trillion pounds, that’s about £15000 ($27,000) for every man, woman and child in the UK. The US picture is similar.

It is important to continually adapt (heal) in response to the changing conditions about us. It is a healthy activity to understand ourselves vibrationally and to seek balance and imbalance as we need it. But just ‘working on ourselves’ isn’t enough. There are non-conformist actions we need to take as individuals responsible for the planet we inhabit.

No amount of self-realisation on its own will reverse global warming. Surely we need to refuse to use our cars and fridges and other ozone destroyers and polluters to do this and even so the situation won’t even start stabilise until 2060. Even if every person in the UK stopped creating carbon today – it would take China just three months to make up the difference in global carbon terms.

So will meditation help to save the 23,000 people killed by road traffic accidents every year? I doubt it but using our cars less might help.

What about the 20,000 Indians who die every year as a result of exposure to farm pesticides? Or the 60,000 suicides because they can’t recycle their own seeds? Will vibrating right help them? No, but choosing from where we source our cotton might.

And what about the pharmaceutical industries, can we just raise consciousness enough to stop them getting a profit by pill poisoning children who seem ‘different’? I doubt it – they’ve just walked right in and are taking everybody’s health while we’ve just been ‘working on ourselves’.

What about the banks? In order to feed ourselves we have invented money that is held in banks. As soon as we enter this system we are investors by default in slavery, child prostitution, armaments, pollution, pharmaceutical industries, deforestation, criminality, and so on – everything that money does.

The hypocrisies of being a person with spiritual intent, manifested at a physical level go on and on. We are tied into a system that exploits the very land we live on, the air we breathe the food we consume and the water we drink.

Refusing to own a car, use a fridge or buy certain cotton or even use money – who’s going to do that? Only a very few of us so far. As Oswald Chambers wrote, we may not change our ways “until the pain of remaining the same becomes greater than the pain of change”. By then we will be even further down the road of planetary chaos. The forces of conformity stop people from making the changes they know they need to make.

Thomas Berry is quoted in Resurgence magazine:

  • the glory of the human has become the devastation of the earth
  • the devastation of the earth appears to be our destiny
  • all human institutions, programs, activities and practices are to be judged by the ‘great work’ they will have to accomplish towards developing a viable human / earth relationship

If we continue to travel this path as a species there is really nothing we can do to avoid devastation of the planet. It’s happening already even though a few of us are accepting ultimate responsibility for our actions. But presently it seems that generally people won’t look, won’t change, and won’t do enough until its too late. Even if we all just stopped polluting now it would take another 50 years just to see the changes.

Given that we are in a situation that is likely to get worse – what actions can we take as individuals to protect ourselves from the environmental fallout of our species in self-destruction mode?

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