Resisting the Perils of Conformity

As human beings we have a strong need to conform to group rules. We let ourselves be influenced by other people’s attitudes, beliefs and behaviour. Their acceptance or approval gives us a sense of self worth.

Why do we conform?
1. The human herd instinct thrives on a sense of belonging.
2. The desire for acceptance and approval is strong.
3. It gives us a feeling of social mobility through group identity.
4. Not to conform would risk the horror of rejection.

Compared to conformists, the percentage of non-conformists is very small. They are looked upon with suspicion or even contempt, as they refuse to be crippled by the herd mentality or bound down by popular beliefs and practices. Whether it is religion or life styles, they stand by what they believe in, despite what others think of them. They are often labeled asocial or antisocial.

How do we conform?

1. In this consumer centred culture of today with its ingenious and irresistible marketing campaigns, people hanker for a lifestyle of acquisitions. Even the older generations are being forced to reorient themselves and their values, to fit in with the crowd. Visual bombardment through aggressive advertising of gizmos, cosmetics and designer clothes offer status symbols which are difficult to ignore.

2. We allow ourselves to be manipulated by the power of money. Self indulgence and hedonism come naturally to those with excessive wealth. A wallet full of plastic cards gives one a sense of power. No one in this day and age wishes to suffer from socioeconomic or cultural inferiority.

3. We allow our souls to be polluted through pornography, TV trash, Immorality, Drug and Alcohol abuse. Says Salman Rushdie, “Porn is vital to freedom, as it mirrors every activity of life. ” A hundred years ago, Sigmund Freud had the same opinion. “The only unnatural behaviour is to have no sex at all. ” Nudity and overt sexuality occupy the minds of men and women more than they did half a century ago. Degrading and depersonalizing of sex through loose living, living-in, and debauchery comes at a heavy price. Trivialization of sex to ridiculous levels by dissecting and discussing every aspect of it in the media has made it appear cheap. Chastity is outmoded, and voices that once spoke for it, are silent. We live and approve of a libertine society.

4. Women are paying the price for following different brands of feminism. They want to live and work like men, smoke to alleviate stress, and drink to prove that what men do they can do better. In the last fifteen years, there has been a three-fold rise of women alcoholics. Earlier, women had the advantage of a four and half year life expectancy over men. Today the gap is decreasing because of similar lifestyles. Women don’t realize that by masquerading as men they are merely living up to patriarchal values. According to scientists from the Swedish Institute of Public Health, there is a link between equality and ill health. Men are affected by the loss of male privileges, and women’s health is damaged by greater opportunity for risky behaviour and the stress of long working hours.

5 Disintegration of the family unit and devaluation of family values. Spouses pursue their ambitions while neglecting the family. A generation of ‘latch key’ children is growing up without proper parental guidance. They are compensated with gifts and gizmos. The Internet and mobile phones provide ample fodder for mischief. Spouses themselves lack commitment to each other. Peccadilloes are permitted through a ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy.

6. The lure of cults becomes impossible to resist. Teenagers are specially vulnerable to peer pressure. Hard rock music, drugs, alcohol, weird fashions, or gutter language give them the acceptance they crave for, even if it means disobeying their parents. Adults are attracted to Scientology, New Age allurements or religious cults that create a state of mind where people lose confidence in themselves, and surrender their decision making ability to external authority. Because of the spiritual vacuum in the world today, people run after spiritual gurus and mediums. It is stylish to be ‘spiritual’, and scientists, film stars, famous citizens, media moguls have all jumped on to this band wagon. Science has been stretched to include mystical and bizarre experiences, out-of-body travel, astral sojourns, meditation techniques, psychic healing, and tarot card predictions. They promise the ‘Age of Aquarius’ – a time of peace and mass enlightenment. Cults are powerful and dangerously deceptive. This has happened because Man hankers after total autonomy from God.

7 The use of heroic medical technology like cloning, sex selection, artificial reproductive techniques or euthanasia. Man has begun to believe he is God.

The perils of Conformity are
o Loss of self image and identity.
o Danger of losing our individuality and becoming clones of each other.
o Lack of ability to make wise and individual decisions.

How to resist the perils of conformity.
1. Man is made in the image of God. He has been given intelligence, powers of discretion, and free will. We need to use these gifts wisely to enhance the image of the Creator within us.

2. Self esteem comes from having a positive self image. Each human being is unique and is capable of making wise and well informed decisions. A self confident person will not look outside himself for solutions. He is aware that he has the resources within himself to run his own life. “Self trust is the first secret of success,” says Ralph Waldo Emerson.

3. A close relationship with God provides a firm foundation for a stable life. “Do not conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds,” counsels St. Paul in Romans 12:2.

4. Cultivate the friendship of people with a healthy, positive outlook on life.

5. Live by healthy sexual standards. The world today cannot provide moral guidance as it has a perverted view of sex. God’s standards are sound.
“Can a man take fire to his bosom and his clothes not be burned?” asks the writer of Proverbs (6:27)

6. Make your life worthwhile by being of service to others.

Being self confident, and operating with the knowledge that we carry within ourselves the means to distance ourselves from the herd instinct, protects us from the perils of conformity.

Next Post

The Difference Between Irresponsible and Responsible Exercises of Parental Authority

For six years I assessed the mental health treatment needs of adults who get caught in the revolving door to a state criminal justice system in New England. In piecing together the histories of these clients I spoke with their parents when opportunities arose. What was often the case during […]

You May Like