Back when I was still teaching, I’d sometimes tell my students about one of my favorite books, The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. I’d read a few excerpts to them and together we’d talk about the ideas presented, consider them, agree or disagree with them. One idea Don Miguel presents at the beginning of his book is what he calls The Domestication of Humans: He writes, 

through this domestication we learn how to live and how to dream…creating our whole belief system…Day by day, at home, at school, at church, and from television, we are told how to live, what kind of behavior is acceptable…Children are domesticated the same way that we domesticate a dog, a cat, or any other animal. (6)

I’d start pointing out those things we had no control over. We didn’t pick our parents. We didn’t pick our names. We didn’t choose the country or city we were born in. We didn’t pick our language, etc.,. These are some things we had to accept as “that’s just how it is.” But how many other things in our lives do we accept without question? We’re taught how to act and speak, why we can run in the park but not at home, to distinguish between kind speech and unacceptable words, what is beauty and what is ugliness, what’s cool and what’s not cool, and, you get it, by the time we’re adults we are really just a product of everything that’s been forced upon us.

“So you,” I’d say to them, “the person in this class right now, sitting in that seat, who are you?” Then I’d pause for effect.

“Do you care what people think of you? Do you consider yourself a unique person, an individual?”

The answers were always the same, no matter the group. No, Mr. John, I don’t care what people think of me,  and yes I do consider myself a unique individual.

“How many of you have an iphone?” Half the class would raise their hands.

And you, Jose, those are nice sneakers. Are those Air Force One’s? Uptowns? I have a pair. They’re pretty popular. Are they comfortable? Are they the most comfortable sneakers you’ve ever owned? No? Why not? Shouldn’t that have been a factor when deciding to buy them? I mean, we walk on our feet all day.

I’d divert the topic, start asking what they think about the class, maybe get them talking about food, a topic I love and it always seemed to draw most students in. A few minutes later, when I feel they’ve moved on in their minds from The Four Agreements, I’d ask them, “If you can be anywhere, doing anything, five years from now, if you can shape your life exactly the way you want, what would your life look like?”

The answers were always pretty similar: Married, a big house, a nice car, a good job. Why are all of our answers so similar, I’d ask them. Why do we desire the same things? Is it just a coincidence, or are we trained to want the same things? Aren’t we taught from the time we’re born to blend in, to be like others? Do we really have choices in our lives?

The domestication is so strong that at a certain point in our lives we no longer need anyone to domesticate us. We don’t need Mom or Dad, the school or the church to domesticate us. We are so well trained that we are our own domesticator. We are an autodomesticated animal. We can now domesticate ourselves according to the same belief system we were given, and using the same system of punishment and reward.(8,9)

Are we truly living our lives as individuals? Or do we care so much about the opinions of others that we suppress our own individuality? I’m reminded of a quote by Benjamin Franklin: “The eyes of other people are the eyes that ruin us. If all but myself were blind, I should want neither fine clothes, fine houses, nor fine furniture.”

Can you trust yourself? Can you trust all that you’ve learned? What if you woke up tomorrow morning and realized that everything you know, everything you ever learned, is a lie?

P.S. If you’re an ex-felon reading this, you’re lucky because society isn’t going to pressure you to blend in. To be totally honest, they’re not going to let you in the club. And I say you’re lucky because being ostracized from this world of clones only gives you more room to be who you were created to be. 

God Bless You.

 

 

 

21 thoughts on “The Tangled Web II

  1. I have found that meditation helps with this mindset of conformist beliefs, helps me sort out the truth of my own voice from the beliefs imposed on me by others. Retraining my brain to focus on what truly matters to me has made a big difference in my happiness, and to filter out the labels which do not fit with my intentions. It’s a challenge to maintain one’s intentions, and I find I must renew my resolve every single day. Every. Day. Enjoyed this thought-provoking article!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Happy to be here. You write about fascinating topics, and I feel I am getting an excellent education from what you share. Thank you for what you teach–this is important stuff! I believe we have a lot of upside-down notions due to our socialization, and am grateful to anyone who can give me a new perspective.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you. Yes, we all are products of the values and ideals and behaviors that were forced upon us. It takes some serious introspection to recognize it and lots of strength and courage to rid ourselves of it. My hope is that people, whether or not they’ve been to prison, will read my posts and take something useful away from it.
        God bless.

        Like

      3. I think you write about ideas anyone can utilize to improve. Your platform is meaningful on many levels, not the least of which is to give hope to those who deeply need it. If you are interested, I would love to have you guest post on my blog. No pressure! Think on it and let me know if this interests you.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Excellent! My blog is pretty open, as I try not to peg myself into writing about any one thing. One aspect of my platform is equality (on every level, in any manner of life), though my blog is focused on my experiences through travel. You should be yourself and be inspired by what you think readers of my blog might like to hear from you. I happen to believe what you already share in your articles is important and compassionate, a message of teaching people how to be true to themselves. My email is elaine.snyder.writefreely@gmail.com. Please take your time and think about what you would like to share, and we can communicate via email if that works for you. I am open to anything.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Ok, sounds good. It may not be the most speedily done piece, as I like to take my time with my writing, but mostly, I try and wait for inspiration to strike and sometimes that can take a bit. But I will write a guest post, and I’m honored that you asked me to.

        My email is soulonrice@gamail.com

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      6. Fab! Like I said, I am fine with you taking your time. Inspiration is the most important step in writing, as no writing is good without it. So happy you are willing to write for me, and I look forward to hearing from you at your leisure. The most important thing to me: happiness and fun. Enjoy the journey! We can chat further via email, and feel free to shoot me questions or anything else that way. I tend to unplug at times during the day, so be patient with me about replies. Typically takes me no more than a day to get back to people, unless I take a weekend away from electronics. 🙂

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  2. “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” -John 15:19 KJV

    Just curious, John – Can you define “society”?

    I ask because my Korean mother lived through WWII and the Korean War… knowing men died for her county’s freedom (twice) from Japan, Russia, and China, she then came to America to be more free – less restricted.

    America was not inviting or welcoming to her – nor was it to me. We, both wanted to live, just to be “free” human beings, not restricted, nor told to be conformed, jammed into an imaginary box… or get shoved out. (i.e. Given no opportunity… so we made our own. You know – survival of the fittest – most observant and patient.)

    The only way to be “set free” is/was by the blood, Christ shed on Calvary. (He came to us too. Unexplainable.)

    It’s like we either wear a label of some sort or don’t. If we choose not, then someone else will slap one on us. True?
    It’s typically their distorted perception and wrong.

    We’ve all broken the law – the Ten Commandments. Salvation is our justification.
    Who is anyone to cast a stone? (i.e., Who is anyone to judge another? We’re all guilty!)

    You my friend – are just that – my friend.
    Stay focused on God, stay on the narrow road, stay strong. Learning to have a personal relationship with Christ is best, and most difficult part of life to learn for some. “We” can’t keep asking, talking, praying – “we” must learn to be still, declutter and listen. His voice is very soft, and quiet. It takes quite an effort.

    Still here. Still praying,
    Kat

    Like

    1. I like the bible quote that you started your comment with. It’s a quote that I’ll probably use as the foundation for a future post. Thanks for the idea. 🙂

      And since you devoted a few lines to your background, I’ll do the same. I’m from Puerto Rican parents. My mom was born on the island. My dad, though Puerto Rican also, was born in Manhattan. As was the case with your mom, America was not very welcoming with my parents either.

      Anyway, you ask what I mean when I say “society.” More often than not, when I refer to “society” I’m lumping the majority of the population into one group. They are the people who accept and take on questionable habits and ideals without question, the ones who respond to wrongs and injustices and inequality with phrases that have been planted into their minds, phrases like “That’s just the way it goes,” as if that’s an adequate explanation for wrongdoing. I feel like I can go on and on with this, but you get it. That’s a tough question to answer. This thing with blind conformity though, it’s not just an American problem. It’s an issue across the globe.

      Thank you so much for keeping up with my blog and the words I write. I appreciate the comments and the bible scripture that you quote.

      Stay in prayer.
      God bless.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I like the bible quote that you started your comment with. It’s a quote that I’ll probably use as the foundation for a future post. Thanks for the idea. 🙂

    And since you devoted a few lines to your background, I’ll do the same. I’m from Puerto Rican parents. My mom was born on the island. My dad, though Puerto Rican also, was born in Manhattan. As was the case with your mom, America was not very welcoming with my parents either.

    Anyway, you ask what I mean when I say “society.” More often than not, when I refer to “society” I’m lumping the majority of the population into one group. They are the people who accept and take on questionable habits and ideals without question, the ones who respond to wrongs and injustices and inequality with phrases that have been planted into their minds, phrases like “That’s just the way it goes,” as if that’s an adequate explanation for wrongdoing. I feel like I can go on and on with this, but you get it. That’s a tough question to answer. This thing with blind conformity though, it’s not just an American problem. It’s an issue across the globe.

    Thank you so much for keeping up with my blog and the words I write. I appreciate the comments and the bible scripture that you quote.

    Stay in prayer.
    God bless.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” -Proverbs 27:17 KJV

    That’s how God works through His own. I can hardly take credit for Him working through me. My life is a gift from God. So is our growing friendship.

    (BTW… I changed my settings to daily, I’ve enough of WordPress glitches! If I respond first every single time – so be it.)

    So when you step back and read, are you able to see a bit of a trend between you and me? Similarities in our lives? Life patterns really don’t vary much in the whole scheme of things. There’s nothing new under the sun. True?

    Here’s a good verse to cherish while waiting, because there will be spans of silence. I referred to them as my own wilderness experience. When it appears as if God goes silent.

    “I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron:” -Isaiah 45:2 KJV

    Christ is the tie that binds.
    Edification or evil – it’s pretty simple to detect in people.
    I’ll end with this… I read a devotional that answers a question or frustration we both have. I’ll forward it to you.

    I need sleep! It’s my dogs now.
    Prayers covering you,
    Kat

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post! I like this quote ‘To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, and be nothing.’ (Elbert Hubbard often misattributed to Aristotle) This is where domestication leads us in a way, which I used to rebel against with inner conflict, and now I just live the rebellion peacefully.

    Liked by 1 person

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