Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2211053-Surviving-Individualism
by Steven
Rated: E · Essay · Educational · #2211053
Practical advice for avoiding loneliness and passive aggressive anguish.
Our survival is threatened by long standing traditions that make no sense whatsoever. Resistance is, of course, impolite. There is a feeling of community in some parts of the world that the so-called advanced nations of the West are lacking. As much as people fattened by the profits of Western "civilization" look down on them along with the poor in their own nations, the global poor often understand something that we have long forgotten, the simple fact that connections between people are worth more than all the gold in the world. Our religious beliefs, or the cherry picking thereof, often encourage passivity, in direct contrast with the way we are pitted against one another for things as basic as employment and shelter. We often feel isolated and agitated, thanks to the constant state of competition and self-debasement Western society imposes on us. A more satisfying, lasting solution to this problem will require a radically new socio-economic structure, but for now let those of us not favored by Western hierarchy, but who must live within it, explore ways to survive the current situation with our sanity intact. Most incredibly, the solution is not to buy the latest iPhone! Rather, we should look at the way we interact with each other and question some of our traditional assumptions about human interaction. We cannot control the foolishness of others, but we can certainly adapt to it.

Often you will find yourself feeling agitated at something someone did or said to you, but bound by traditions of politeness and decorum, you will say nothing. There is nothing more harmful to our relationships than this. Someone may say something disparaging and condescending, or do something reprehensible to you, without even meaning to, but nevertheless you are correct in feeling slighted. Your anger at being belittled simply means there is some dignity left in you. Those feelings of agitation do not simply go away when you ignore them. They become points of resentment that fester over time. Even among equals, the accumulation of these small grievances threatens to erupt into a destructive confrontation later. This is such a widespread problem that people consider it normal to have unspoken grievances that must not be spoken of. Have you ever wondered why the "nice guys" among us end up being the most miserable sons of bitches around, after you have had the misfortune of getting to know them better? It is because their "niceness" is completely fake, cultivated by an omnipresent culture of fakeness. They only act nice in order to avoid unpleasantness, which they fear beyond all reason. Because of our culture's obsession with politeness, of hiding problems in hopes that they go away, this very unhealthy attitude is depressingly common. Instead of genuine friendship, we prefer fakeness, because it is easier and does not require us to answer difficult questions. Then we wonder why we are so lonely!

There are times when this facade of friendliness is cast aside, such as arguments between spouses that spark a divorce, or similarly explosive incidents among family or friends. If we had a healthier attitude about expressing our negative emotions, incidents like these would not be nearly as common. You have no doubt heard the expression "familiarity breeds contempt". In reality, that only happens when we let it happen. Having had a long time knowing each other, there has been plenty of time for unspoken grievances to accumulate among seemingly good friends. Cowering away from even the slightest confrontation, we allow problems between us to invisibly multiply, much like a cancer or a bad infection. When the weight of these resentments becomes too heavy to be restrained by decorum, a dramatic confrontation occurs. On these occasions, every little petty grievance comes to the forefront. Feelings are hurt, and the continued relationship between the arguers is threatened. I assure you that there is nothing normal about any of this. We must learn to accept our darker feelings and learn how to express them properly.

Always remember that our "evil" emotions like anger, jealousy, and even hatred, have good reasons to exist. It is good and proper to hate oppression, or to criticize unfairness. Our attempts at sanitizing ourselves of anything negative have only succeeded in rendering our positive feelings shallow and meaningless. When you resent someone for treating you like something to be trampled upon, how can you possibly expect to have a genuinely enjoyable moment with this person? In such circumstances, pretending to be on good terms is utterly joyless and futile. A more militant mindset can do us a world of good. No matter where you are in life, you must assert yourself if you want to have any hope of being respected. Drill it into your mind if you must, as a soldier is drilled to march to a steady beat. The rythm of your drums will be the key to your happiness and freedom. All good relationships are based on a solid foundation of respect. If you do not even respect yourself enough to do something when someone treats you like trash, people will take notice and treat you accordingly, no matter how "nice" they pretend to be. That is the sad reality of a society built on lies; often friends are not truly friends but pretenders brought together by mutual aversion to unpleasantness. Even subtle things like your posture impact how people treat you, so stand tall and proud!

Obviously, due to the hierarchical nature of our society, there are many instances when the aggressor has power over the victim. One common example is a spouse in an abusive marriage. Any abuse of this nature is often enabled by the abuser having control over one's access to food and shelter, making escape very difficult. The same thing also applies to children of abusive parents, elders with abusive caretakers, workers with overbearing bosses, etc. To assert oneself in such conditions can have disastrous consequences. Naturally, people in positions of power and privilege are quick to remind us that airing our grievances is "rude". The would-be tyrant responds with zealous passion to crush any sign of rebellion, because words are powerful. The tyrant has the exclusive freedom to air grievances, often quite harshly, while denying the same freedom to the victim, and even the most innocent joke at the tyrant's expense threatens their power. In such circumstances, it is necessary to use stealth and subterfuge in order to undermine and ultimately depose the tyrant. Take any opportunity to challenge their authority when it becomes practical to do so. Start slow and work yourself up to major challenges. Over time, you may take power back from the tyrants right from under their noses. At the same time, secret planning can be a great idea. The abused may keep money in a secret account, for example, but the most important thing is to start with a strong foundation of self respect. Otherwise, you will cower when confronted and be set all the way back to square one. With a proper foundation of self respect, you will be ready to seize the opportunity for freedom when it presents itself. Linking up with other people in the same situation as you also helps immensely, because there is power in numbers.

Being respected even a little bit helps to reinforce your self confidence, and because the way you carry yourself has such an impact on how people treat you, respect begets more respect. No matter what anyone may tell you, no matter who or what you are, you deserve to be respected. Silence any thoughts to the contrary. Nobody has the right to trample you underfoot, and you should abandon any notion of being polite or kind to someone who treats you with contempt, unless of course you are maintaining the illusion while preparing to escape the situation. You are, truthfully, a member of the most dangerous species on Earth! You are not to be trifled with, for you are armed with the most powerful weapon in the world, the human mind. I will not go into specific arguments or methods you can use to assert yourself, because chances are good that you are fully capable of forming them yourself.

When you have finally secured respect from people around you, or found new surroundings with people who respect you, or whatever the hell you must do to find respect, you will have the opportunity to connect with them on a meaningful level. There is nothing better in this world than enjoying mutual interests together with people who respect and understand you and nothing worse than having nobody to relate to. When you are truly honest with people, you will be free to enjoy your time together. Love and respect will be yours, if you dare to find them. You may still carry the unique scars of your past for a while even after your triumph, but it is never too late for the downtrodden to stand up, refuse to play society's ridiculous games, and grab destiny by the throat!
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