Taking the road less traveled reaps benefits

There is no denying that humanity is like a giant flock of sheep. Fads, rituals and traditions regulate our day-to-day existence. I believe our irrational tendency to kowtow to social norms condemns many of us to live less fulfilling lives than we could potentially live. Those who believe they are not sheep, consider this.

Look at the clothes you’re wearing now. You insist that you wear them because they are the clothes that you find most attractive. Nevertheless, I’m sure there are students all over this campus who happen to be wearing something similar. Was there a genetic mutation that affected most babies born between 1987 and 1992 that instilled a natural appreciation for flip-flops, shorts that extend past the knee, blue jeans, and sweater-shorts combinations? I don’t think so. You may be right that the clothes you choose to wear are a result of personal preference, but I insist that those personal preferences are rooted in a desire to conform.

Consider your personal faith. If you were born on the opposite side of the world or a few hundred years earlier, you would almost certainly have a different set of values, or pray to a different set of deities. What about your political preferences? Numbers show that almost all of our political beliefs are determined by the opinions of family and/or friends. I am sure that if you were born in another place or time, even your music preferences would change.

Many of us revel in conforming to social norms. Ovations from the solidly orange student sections in Sun Life Stadium are contagiously thrilling. You would most likely not idolize UM’s football team if you attended a different university.

My intended message is not that people should be nonconformist (even that is a cliché). My sole argument is that during this critical moment of our lives, we should take stock of the things that we truly enjoy. The greatest members of our species were the ones who sailed in the direction of their choice. Those who simply date, drink, marry, study, pray or jump rope to follow the ritual flounder aimlessly at sea.

Josh Kornfield is a junior majoring in international studies and political science. He may be contacted at jkornfield@themiamihurricane.com.

October 13, 2010


Josh Kornfield

Senior Columnist

2 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Taking the road less traveled reaps benefits”

  1. Josh says:

    I’m glad that we agree on what is “obvious”. “Obvious” facts are often used as evidence to prove a larger argument that is less “obvious”. This larger argument encompasses a vast array of rituals that humanity unconsciously follows.

    Dating is often ritualized, as is marrying, or going to medical school. Applying to colleges is a ritual. The larger point is that not everyone who obeys these rituals is following their passion or using their best judgment. The religious, musical, political, fashion traditions that surround us end up defining us.

    I sincerely hope the larger message is also obvious to you, and we agree.

    That’s all I will ever have.

  2. Mark Gibson says:

    Congrats. You have stated the obvious.

    “If you were born on the opposite side of the world or a few hundred years earlier, you would almost certainly have a different set of values, or pray to a different set of deities.”

    Duh. If I were born in India, I would probably not have the same values as someone growing up in a small, Christian town in the Midwest. If I were born in Puritan New England in the 16 or 1700s, I probably wouldn’t choose to go to a school like this one.

    “I am sure that if you were born in another place or time, even your music preferences would change.”

    And no, if I were born before Lil Wayne started making music, I would still probably enjoy listening to Lil Wayne. Great call on that one. If I didn’t grow up in the middle of nowhere, naturally I’m not going to have the same connection to songs about growing up in the middle of nowhere.

    That’s all I’ve got for now.

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