The Natural Mind â€“ Waking Up alan macmillan orr
Conforming 1. Adhering to established customs or doctrines (especially in religion) 2. Be similar, be in line with (conform)
et’s face it, sometimes you’ve just got to conform. Like for example when you are driving. If we all did our own thing, there would be chaos, many accidents, and probably many deaths! The same goes for operating machinery, or doing most kind of jobs, even if the resulting chaos is not life threatening. If the blue forms have to go to department X there is no point in sending them to Department Y. You will surely cause much confusion, and ultimately lose your job! So we are not talking about things that obviously require some degree of conformity, we are questioning why, as humans, we are made to conform to someone else’s ideas of what is right and what is wrong. It is clear from the outset that the purpose it appears to serve is that of good order in society. “After all,” say those in power, “without these rules (a principle or condition that customarily governs behaviour, Prescribed guide for conduct or action) the world would be in chaos, and we would be nothing more than savages!” This is an interesting point to begin with, and one which we must give our utmost attention to. If I say that without rules and conformity we would be savages, what am I actually saying? Do I mean that without rules, the human is nothing more than an animal, that he does not know how to behave around others, and does not know what is acceptable (judged to be in conformity with approved usage) in society? Who is he? Is he nothing more than just an eating, sleeping, eating sex machine?
Let the chaos begin! Let’s just imagine there are no rules about anything in life, and there is no man to tell you you must conform to a certain way of thinking, or a certain way of acting. I can hear you thinking: “That’s impossible, we need rules or we would have chaos; anarchy!” But there is no chaos in nature is there? No anarchy, only balance. You may argue, that of course there are rules in the animal world, but these are rules brought about by nature, to ensure the balance of the world, and ultimately, the universe. They are not based on thought, or an idea. Whether you believe that Man came down from the trees, or was created by an all powerful supernatural being you call god, there is no denying that the society we live in today was not created by nature, but by Man; powerful men, in fact, who wanted to control the way in which the people lived, who thought they knew better how to order the world than nature. And why wouldn’t they? It’s all thanks to nature that we have a big enough brain capable of this complex thought!
Is right and wrong inherent in our nature? If no one had told you it was wrong to slap your sibling, would you still slap them? Or that you should eat with a knife and fork and develop “table manners,” would you still eat with your hands? What if no one told you to learn and educate yourselves, would you be capable of developing scientific theories on the nature of everything, political strategies, or business strategies; or would you still be scrabbling about on the forest floor looking for something to eat? If no one told you to be polite to others, would you be rude to them? If no one told you that being cruel is wrong, would you still be cruel? Do you follow? What is inherent in our nature? That is the question. When my mother tells me it is wrong to go to the toilet in my pants, or wrong to scream at the dinner table, or wrong to hit another child, is it inherently “wrong,” or is it just Man’s definition? What is right and what is wrong are concepts thought up by powerful men to control society through conformity. If we did not conform to those concepts, where would we be? The powerful amongst us would have us believe that without having rules, society would break down, but is it not already broken? The powerful amongst us would have us believe that by not conforming to acceptable standards of behaviour, you will never know what it is like to be human; that you will be nothing more than an animal. But do I not already know what it is to be human? Is “what it is to be human” just another man-made concept, with no bearing on reality as it is? Because as we will see here, if we remove all the rules, the “what it is to be human” concept really starts to lose its authority. In the natural world, animals follow a set of rules that govern how the species is going to survive, nothing more. So lion does not kill lion (unless perhaps in self-defence) because if lions always killed their own, the species would soon die out; this is clear. What is not clear is what purpose the bolt-on rules have for homo sapiens. Right and wrong are just two of these bolt-ons.
We say it is wrong for a man to kill another man, but why? It has nothing to do with compassion; there is just a rule that says we can’t. We say it is wrong for children not to obey their parents, because we have created a rule that says so. We say that you must go to school because you must learn, but only because we have created a rule. Do you see? Everything we take as “inherent” are actually just man-made rules. The human being has none of these rules pre-loaded into his brain when he is born. There is no right and wrong way to do anything. There is the need for a species to survive, nothing more, and the rules governing the behaviour of the species are encoded into what is generally known as natural law (a rule or body of rules of conduct inherent in human nature and essential to or binding upon human society). The rest, unfortunately, we have made up ourselves. You must learn to conform You must obey You must conform Or you will be punished Ok! That’s more like it. We’re getting somewhere. Conformity or punishment? I know which one I would choose as a child don’t you? Either you rebel and you get a slap on the bottom and suffer verbal abuse, or you conform and you get an ice cream! Easy choice, no? We all take the easy way out when we are young. We may think something is unfair, but if we go along with it we usually get a reward, whether it be a smile, a pat on the back, or something more material. And let’s face it, we love our parents, they are our only role models; so if they tell us something is right or wrong we usually go along with it. “Mum knows best.” But remember, that your parents were themselves taught to obey and conform; it is all they know; so they pass it on to you (thanks a lot). They do not think they are doing anything “wrong,” just teaching you how to be a proper member of society. They teach you how to speak, how to act, how to be respectful to members of the establishment etc. But what are they really doing? Are they really just training us to be like a pet dog? You may think I am joking, but think about it. When you buy a new puppy, what do you do with it? You get it to obey you! “Sit! lie down! Give me a paw!” “Bad dog, good dog” And what do you do when the dog doesn’t obey? You strike it on the nose or on the bottom. “Bad dog!” You cry. “Go to your basket.” And what do you do when your child doesn’t conform? You scream “Go to your room!” We train our children as we train our dogs. If they obey, we give them a treat, and if they don’t, we punish them. What do you think? Do you think this comparison is wrong? “We are teaching our children to think for themselves,” you argue. “A dog is not capable of complex thought.” But maybe it is! Maybe we just don’t have the right language, so we just get it to obey simple commands. I am not entirely serious here, but can you understand what I am trying to convey to you? We have built our society based on obeying rules we have created, and we get our children to conform to them just so they will fit in and be normal (conforming with or constituting a norm or standard or level or type or social norm; not abnormal). Is it any clearer to you now? Take marriage, for example. We bring up our children to believe that when they grow up they should find a partner of the opposite sex, “marry” them, and create a stable family home where they too can have a family and bring up children. You can see why homosexuality (a sexual attraction to (or sexual relations with) persons of the same sex) is so frowned upon in all societies. You have broken a taboo, and for that you must be punished, if not physically then by being excluded from normal society. How parents of children that are attracted to the same sex are disappointed. They brought them up to conform, to be “normal,” and fit in with society (as they knew it), and then the child disobeyed them. How will they be able to look their neighbours and peers in the eye and say that no, our son would not being getting married to a nice respectful girl, he was in fact a dirty homosexual who engaged in sex with other men! How terrible for them. Marriage is sometimes called an institution (a custom that for a long time has been an important feature of some group or society), so for the custom to be broken is a terrible thing that goes against all the rules. The church will tell homosexuals that they will be damned for ever. But it’s all nonsense, all they are really concerned about are the man-made rules.
“But it’s not natural,” they cry, “Man is supposed to be with woman, not man with man or woman with woman.” But what if it isn’t natural? If lots of people were homosexual maybe the population would drop a little, and that could only be a good thing! The “norm” is not a natural law, which is something that cannot be expressed with mere words. It is men who have created what is “normal.” Imagine my parents’ delight when I told them I was indeed getting married (to a girl!). They didn’t care that the only reason we were doing it was so I could live in australia, and she could live in england. The point was, I was conforming, and that pleased them. They could spread the word to their friends and family that yes, I was normal, that they had done their job of convincing me that conforming was the only way. They would have preferred if we had had children, and a nice house, and stable well paid jobs, but they could only hope for one thing at a time. Imagine their displeasure when I told them we would be separating.
Failure to comply Everything we do in life has its basis in conforming to the rules of the society, which is controlled by powerful men, who wish to control and subjugate (make subservient; force to submit or subdue) all on the planet. The reason we accept these rules is because they have been around a long time; and if something’s been around a long time it must be right, right? But as we said at the beginning of our discussion; the ideas of what is right and wrong are just that, ideas. In our human rule book, we have two versions; one is the rule book supposedly handed down as the word of god, and the other is the rule book handed down by powerful men in government. Where is the difference? Both seek to control and dominate others by offering a list of things you should and shouldn’t do. For breaking the human rules, you should expect to be punished (you may even have your life ended) by those in power for committing a “crime,” and in the religious rule book, you should expect eternal damnation and the pleasure of burning in hell for committing a “sin.” Can you see the similarities? Both books come from the powerful, both books want us to conform, and both offer a variety of punishments for failure to comply. In order to break free of this control, we have to start to understand the human, which is us. We have to accept that without the rules and conforming we would be different animals to the ones we are now. Contrary to what is handed down to us as truth, we would find out that yes, as we were told, society would break down, but only the society that is controlled by the powerful. The human animal society would carry on, obeying none but nature’s laws. Laws which inhibit the murder of one from your own species. I don’t know if there is anything in natural law which deals with love and compassion, but if there was, it would come from the universal, from the indivisible, the unspoken; it would not be words, but something that affected the course of our actions in every waking minute. “But if people do not conform, there will be more chaos, there will be more greed, more murder, more hate, more desire, and more suffering” cry the powerful. “Than there already is?” I reply. You and I both know that all of those things are man-made; they do not come from nature; and if we return to our natural state, whatever that is, I am sure that all of these things will silently drop away, marked on our file as “not beneficial to the species.” “If you do not conform I sentence you to eternal unhappiness!” “Thanks, but I think I’ll take my chances anyway. I will not conform.”