You’re Not Normal If You Think I’m Not Normal
What about those people who go through life "just living"? One of the great mistakes in life is to focus attention on those who openly indulge in the perverse, or obviously hedonistic, pleasures of life, while giving only fleeting attention to the vast majority of people who live in that quite, almost invisible world of "normalcy". Within this great mass of humanity lies the borderline between love and no love. The boundary separating these two groups divides not only those who occupy the extremes of life, but also marks the real and absolute division between those whose love, or lack of love, is hidden by daily living. Whether or not a clear and "visible line" can be discerned by people, or even exists, I believe there is a real and absolute division so that at every moment in your life it is true you are either a member of the group that loves, or you belong to the group that does not. If it is your choice to love or not, then making that choice determines at every moment which group you belong to. Though some disagree, I believe those who understand love know that the borderline exists, even if it is beyond human ability to locate.
Either you choose to love and belong to the group that loves, or you do not choose to love and belong to the group that does not love. This is not to say that passage between groups is restricted during your lifetime, for it appears it is not. If we are to continue to assume it is your choice to love or not to love, then passage among the groups depends on that choice, and is apparently prohibited only to those who have totally rejected love. Perhaps those who love and who do not love are not even "defined" as a “group” before death, perhaps they are. Whether they are or not, at any one point in time, and thus every moment of our lives, we either love or we do not love. Many variations of this proposition of a division between people exist, including ideas about a "purgatory" from which escape is possible even after death. While the groups are described differently by different cultures and religions, most end up as two clear, separate, and distinct, masses, which, sometime before or after death, are forever fixed and unchanging.
The vast majority of "normal" people appear to give little thought as to which group they belong to. They seem rather indifferent to the presence among them of the borderline, yet the existence of the line and their choice of sides determines the very nature of their being. A normal person exists among a huge mass of fellow normal people who embrace, protect, and shield him or her from the world around them. The peer group discourages thoughts and concerns about what the members as a whole stand for, what the individual really believes in, and where the group is headed.
The routines of daily life that guide a normal person (and guide you if you are "normal") appear to be one of the strongest anesthetics of all time. The products of a normal person's labors include responsible corporate positions, attractive suburban houses, sensible cars, extensive charitable activities, active participation in church affairs, union membership, solid family ties, etc. All contribute to the individual's feeling that they are comfortably situated among, and a solid member of, the normal people of the world.
The output of the normal person's mind bombards his or her fellow human beings through newspapers, televisions, shows, theaters, books, advertisements, conversations, interviews, etc., with the message that the normal person's values, behavior, likes, dislikes, ideas, and lifestyles, are not only acceptable, but are right, good, normal, healthy, and desirable. As each member moves through familiar streets, shops, offices, and homes, the whole structure of normal society reinforces a belief that they and their peers are the foundation and strength of the society of which they are a part. Each reflection of the normal life, as seen by every member as they look at other members, solidifies their belief that they are what they should be.
To do that which is not normal brings immediate reaction from those around you. To persist in doing that which is the exception and not the rule focuses all the pressure society can bring to bear on the rebellious member. If a member's public behavior does not rapidly conform to at least the minimum requirements of normalcy, they find themselves outside the group, which seems to huddle closely together and shrink from them with the intention of not only banning them forever, but their ideas as well. With the increase of tolerance in modern society, this process has become muted and less obvious, however it is still a basic tool of society. While friendships may now be tolerated among normal people and "outcasts", the bond of membership remains coldly and cruelly destroyed, preventing exchange and acceptance of ideas.
A curious state of mind accompanies normal life, it is as if a restful, peaceful cloud surrounds and deadens human feelings, isolating each person from every other person's problems. A day may be spent with a "normal" amount of concern for others, even with a few shining moments of human compassion interspersed among scheduled routines. Yet the cloud of normalcy engulfs the mind and senses, making those moments no more than rare attempts at loving. The sense of people loving people is missing.
The frightening thing about normalcy is that it carries with it a sense of right, which is the logical result of the sequence of intense socializing pressures that accompany normal growth. This myopic view of life is virtually devoid of the influence of love. Even worse is the conviction of most normal people who have not searched their heart, mind, and soul to understand love, that they not only know what it means to love, but that they are indeed loving, caring individuals. The narcotic effect of normalcy renders those who do not throw aside the strong beliefs instilled by years of normal living and replace them with an understanding of love, slaves of their perfectly logical but loveless lives.
Though you may find it difficult to comprehend, all manner of philosophical beliefs from Nazi fascist superiority to Marxist revolution, right-wing militaristic conservatism to left wing social upheaval, sexual liberation to fanatic isolation of women from society, all can be argued for, intelligently supported, and devotedly engaged in, by people who have total conviction in the "rightness" of their ideas and acts. Indeed, a “normal” person often exhibits unquestioning acceptance of the "goodness", and perhaps even superiority, of their group's values and lifestyle.
General beliefs and traditions of whatever group or groups one identifies with (whether ethnic, social, political, economic, intellectual or otherwise) mold, and may distort, the personal ideas each of us spend lifetimes developing and nurturing. Group ideas are so much a part of our lives that they become for us truths which we not only must live by, but which we are duty bound to defend and propagate. Group beliefs are absorbed by individual minds, so that each of us lives our life, more or less intensely according to the nature of our beliefs, as if we, and the other members of our group, are the only ones who know how life should be lived.
There is another kind of pressure to conform to a “normal” routine, an internal pressure that few of us recognize. Each of us inherits millions of biological "traits" from our parents, who in turn inherited millions of traits from their parents, etc. Some of us inherit better math skills, some greater artistic ability, some more athletic dexterity, etc. Some of us are, from birth, calmer, more emotional, faster, slower, smarter, musically inclined, etc. As clearly as our environment is for us an external definition of a "normal" world, our heredity is an internal definition of a "normal" world. For many, this inherited "normal" world can be a far stronger anesthetic than the "normal" world offered by a somewhat detached environment.
Many, many people live their lives, from birth to death, blindly following the path that heredity provides for them. Those who are more emotional may be easily angered and lash out at family members, those who are less emotional may be apathetic toward the needs of others, etc. Each person who follows the hereditary forces at work within them, "feels" that they are doing what they do because they are who they are. For most, it is far more difficult to recognize that they are intentionally following an ancient biologic roadmap, than it is to simply believe that they are just being "themselves". Indeed, many deny that they are "like" their parents, only to eventually see an image of their parents’ lives when they look in the mirror. They fail to realize and admit to themselves that, in many ways, they are willing clones of their ancestors.
Yet the traits that we inherit are just that, they are traits that cause us to have a "tendency" to make certain choices. While our hereditary traits may exert incredible internal pressure on us to make particular choices, the choices we make are none-the-less our own free will choices. Our choices are not automatic, they are not determined by our heredity or environment, unless we allow them to be. Our choice to follow our hereditary or environmental path is our free will choice not to do otherwise. If heredity or environment dictate our choice, it is because we have not been willing to recognize the influence of our biologic heritage and our surroundings, and because we have not been willing to make our own free will choices that transcend heredity and environment. Admittedly, it may be incredibly hard not to follow the path our heredity and environment dictates for us, yet it is clear that we can make our own free will choices, we can make our own path.
We have criticized normalcy as if it was a universal plague whose victims are unaware of the pain it inflicts. There is another way of looking at it. We can view normalcy as model behavior determined by a more or less democratic combination of biologic, environmental, intellectual, and other characteristics of human existence. What is normal is normal because it works "best" in the given situation. For example, the normal routine for a particular office worker is adapted from time tested routines for similarly situated employees. It is followed by a worker not only because his or her ability to perceive alternatives has been numbed, but also because the normal routine serves them well. Thus when we suggest you break free from the restraints of normalcy, it is very important that you be committed to understanding love. For if you do not replace your normal routine with true love, you will have simply given up the companionship and comfort of normal people for some lonely individualism, which in the long run will prove no better for you.
Perhaps most of us need a degree of "normalcy" where we follow routines that add stability to our lives. While it is wrong to hide among the majority of normal people who blend into the group to avoid doing what is right, it does not follow that one must stand apart from the crowd. There is certainly nothing wrong in being with people. Being distant and cold, separating yourself from society, is the opposite of loving. It is one thing to be alone because you are the only person in a group who is willing to love, but it is quite the opposite to be alone because you are afraid or unwilling to love. What is required is that you love people with the hope that all will join together in a community where it is "normal" to love. To help build such a normal existence filled with love for all, whether or not you succeed, should be your goal.