Doing things because that’s the way they’ve always been done.
Go to preschool, kindergarten, elementary school, junior high school, high school, college. The bachelor’s degree is nothing more than a union card.
You need a master’s degree, and you may as well get a doctorate while you’re at it. You know, so you can “exercise your mind.”
You think you’re making your own decisions, but the reality is quite different. You major in one of the 3-4 options you’re given based on a standardized exam you took in high school. You’re told, “You’d be good in this career.”
And so you just do as you’re told. You follow the invisible yellow line and never really discover values, a mission, a message that is truly important to you – let alone create a lifestyle that is centered on those core values.
Musicians have a “plan” that they follow. You either play classical or jazz. You must get a performance degree, so you can get a master’s degree – and then to prove your dedication to the system you get a doctorate and continue the cycle in perpetuity.
The same goes for many other fields of study and careers.
You finish “the plan.” You’ve racked up tens of thousands of dollars in debt doing so. You ask your teacher, “What next?”
“Well, good luck to you,” they say. “I’m sure you’ll be fine.” (You think I’m making this up, but I’m not.)
Independent thought is highly discouraged in today’s world.
But that’s not even accurate.
Independent thought isn’t mentioned. It’s not encouraged, it’s not discouraged.
“Independent thought” is something that is found on the “fringes” of Polite Society.
Should someone engage in actual independent thought, people don’t know what to do. How can someone be thinking these things when they’ve been taught to follow “the plan” since they were 3 years old?
It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it sends shockwaves throughout the world.
“Little Johnny isn’t going to college? Instead he’s monetizing his blog he’s been building since he was 14?” This cannot be.
Little Johnny needs to follow “the plan.” Because that’s what I did, and that’s …. well, that’s just what you do.
The Gatekeepers of Polite Society parade their own “rebels” – entertainers, athletes, and what not – and we’re led to believe they are eschewing popular thought.
We idolize them for “going against the grain,” for “rebelling against the system.”
And it turns out they’ve been regurgitating popular thought all along, albeit with heavy doses of the F word.
They criticize “the plan” but in such a way that the “planners” continue their business unabated. There’s a line you just don’t cross, and those who wish to remain in the public eye know exactly where that line lies.
The teacher tolerates the pouter, the loudmouth, the critic, just so long as the kid lines up in his spot like everyone else – and trusts the “authorities” to look out for their best interests.
“Education is everything.”
“The police are your friend.”
“Go to college and get a good job so you can have insurance and eventually own your own home.”
These (among others) are the talking points with which we’re constantly bombarded in the media, at minor league baseball games, while doing our Christmas shopping.
It doesn’t occur to us that there might be some design, an agenda behind all this propaganda.
Why would it occur to us if we believe we’re just a bunch of blobs of meaningless matter cascading through space until our lives expire?
There have been countless means of saying “Screw the Plan” since the beginning of time.
There are countless means in front of us today.
But we ignore them.
Because we’re content to allow others to tell us what to do. We are happy to let Hollywood producers, politicians and the commissioner of the NFL dictate what is moral, what is funny, what isn’t funny, and what gender Bruce Jenner decides to be on any given week.
The Internet should be the greatest tool of liberation in history. Instead, it is the means by which social norms, healthy social relationships, nations and civilizations are destroyed.
Why? Because people are lazy. Independent thought requires work. It requires courage. These are qualities that are generally frowned upon by “polite society.”
“Much better to just mind your business, do your job, get your promotion, and then go home and watch Netflix, comrade.
“See that person who isn’t following The Plan? They are on the ‘fringe’. Don’t be like that person. Follow The Plan and stay safe.”
This is the stuff of which mid-life crises happen. A nice dude who has followed “the plan” his entire life all of a sudden wakes up and sees the absurdity of it all.
“I followed ‘the plan’ and look where it got me,” he laments while sipping scotch in a dark, smoke-filled corner of his garage.
He’s Unhappy, because he’s never learned the true source of happiness.
He feels Disrespected because he’s never learned what it means to truly respect himself.
So he says, “I’m going to just end it all and buy a boat.”
And so he buys the boat. On credit. And it’s freaking expensive.
Now wifey-poo is upset, confused, shocked.
He’s put the family’s finances in peril; she’s worried that their marriage is in peril. Chaos ensues.
It sounds ridiculous. But it happens.
All. The. Time.
There’s another way to deal with this crisis, and it is a legit crisis.
Screw “The Plan” – and Live YourLife.
Take your time – and lots of long walks (preferably near a beach if there’s one close by) – and discover what is really important to you. The qualities of your personality, the mission, the message that is uniquely your own.
Find the hill you’re willing to die on. Then plant your flag on it and say, “This is who I am, this is what I stand for, and you can take it or leave it, boss man.”
And what if the boss man says “leave it”? I may have an answer. Give a listen to Episode 2 of this podcast to explore your options.