We were not designed to look the same. We were never meant to be sheep.
The problem with conformity is that trying to conform takes so much energy, leaving little to none left for all of the good things like creativity and connection, curiosity and compassion.
When we accept that we are who we are and everyone else is too, we free up our abundant energy and our abundant goodness.
If we truly believed we are made in God’s image, if we truly believed God dwells within us, then we would know we reflect God’s beauty and goodness just as we are. We would know we are a reflection of God just as we are. We would stop trying to stuff our feet into shoes that do not fit. And we would stop insisting everyone around us stuff their feet into shoes that do not fit.
I think we have had it backwards. We preach about how people should be, passively (or sometimes actively) shaming them for who they are. But this is ineffective, counterproductive even, in the long run. It stifles potential.
Goodness might occur inspite of this. But potential cannot be reached. And the maximum amount of goodness produced cannot either. Each of us is only allotted a certain amount of energy units and when so many of them are spent on guilt and shame or fear or determination to become something we are not, those energy units are not available for things like forgiveness and communication and affection.
So what is ideal? And if that is backward, what is forwards?
I think forward is giving each other (and ourselves) permission to be who we are, at our core. To be who we know we are in those brief moments when expectation is set aside and our individuality allowed to take a deep breath.
It’s scary, I know.
Because what if?
What if we give each other permission to be ourselves and we turn out to be thieves…or liars…or killers?
What if we are given permission to be ourselves and we respond by abandoning our loved ones and all of our responsibilities??
Here is how I think we know the answer to that question: we ask it of ourselves.
If you were given permission to be yourself tomorrow what would you do? Who would you be?
So I think forwards must be this:
Be exactly who you are, knowing fully in this moment that who you are at your core, beneath the mask, beneath the layers you adorn in order to meet expectations, you are a reflection of God.
At our core we hold all of the goodness in the universe. We only act like jerks because of pain and fear and loneliness. We were not jerks in the beginning. We will not be jerks in the end. We are not jerks at our core.
Think back, look inward, get to know yourself. Find someone, one other person with whom you can be your actual self. Practice being you. Work towards being you all the time. Free up all of those energy units for love and forgiveness.
The exciting part is it becomes a snowball and a catch-22. The more we become ourselves, the more energy units we free up to put forth goodness into this world and the more goodness we put into this world the less room for pain and fear there will be and the less of that there is the more we can be our actual selves and so on and so forth and forever, amen.
Cultural change is like turning the Titanic around. But together we can do it. It starts with me and it starts with you. Let’s get this ship a turnin’.