I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

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Have you caved in on your beliefs due to others you associated with looking upon you for agreement, reassurance, or for some other form of approval when you were in a professional or social situation?  Surrendering your opinions or judgements because of a fear that you will not fit in on what others might believe can alter a majority of minds not yet tempered.

Maybe you choose not to do something because other people were watching and you felt awkward or were embarrassed, such as performing in front of people, like maybe singing or public speaking.  Perhaps you have chosen a particular line of clothing to wear because it is the style that is most popular during the season.  Your concern with how you will look in your new outfit will often dissuade the original choice due to what others may think about them.  Nervousness can cause us to have the same outcome, specifically the doubt in ourselves is a very common occurrence and is heightened when others are watching.  I think that for those who do so in the professional arena, may fear a retribution from their peers or supervisors on a personal and even possibly on a professional level as well.

The thought of not being true to your beliefs due to the judgements of others can be a very strong factor that influences our behavior.  Dr. Wayne Dyer has said …”When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.”

I remember in my 10th grade English class, we were given an assignment by our staunchly conservative teacher Mrs. Leuth.  She apparently had the reputation of having a very challenging class in the English department, and if it wasn’t an honors English class, it certainly should have been.  Only two people in that class did not have to take the final, and only two people in that class received an A.  One mid-semester morning the assignment to write a critical essay was given to all students in a classroom of under thirty.  I believe we wrote the essay in the classroom that day and handed it in on period end.  The following day we were handed back our graded papers, thinking nothing was to become of it when we all viewed them as usual in the privacy of our seats.  Just another assignment many of us thought.  Little did I know that some of us were selected to read out loud to our classmates the papers we had written the day before.  I call upon this experience because my paper was chosen due to the content that was in it.  Mrs. Leuth told the class prior to my reading that I was not afraid to reveal my thoughts, and for that reason I believe she had selected me to read its excerpts.

I’m really not sure what the assignment details were, but I will never forget that day when I for the first time was called upon to speak publicly in front of my peers about my own conclusions.  My own intellectual processes were to be divulged to all in that class, my own thoughts in the presence of others to be voiced aloud in a room with statistically speaking some very critical recipients.  Sophomores can be brutal.  I do remember as I read to the class my paper discussing a subject that involved imprisonment, and torture.  I believe that I was using a particular frame of reference in the paper, and inclusively writing about the mistreatment one could receive in their captors violent rages.  I distinctly remember a section which spoke about cutting the ears off of their captor when not cooperating with them.  The torture of that person was highlighted in the body of the text and the argument on the crimes of humanity probably consisted of the thesis.

In the tradition of Walt Whitman I nervously yawp’d my paper’s contents to the classroom.  It was my portrayal of Dead Poet’s Society.

A sweaty-toothed madman with a stare that pounds my brain.”

“Like a blanket that always leaves your feet cold…. From the moment we enter crying to the moment we leave dying, It’ll just cover your face as you wail and cry and scream.

I’m not sure I was that poetic as depicted in the film, but perhaps recognition for the frankness of personalized content I injected probably gave me the spotlight.

The drive we have to fit in can have some disconcerting effects upon our behavior, and our individuality.  In philosophy the topic of individuality brings us to several authors that have discussed the ethical and moral implications brought upon by the subject of the individual.  You find treatments such as John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism or Ayn Rand’s Objectivism in the historical record.  A treatment from the existentialist’s and the humanist’s are also notably rendered in the mix.

Wikipedia cites that ethical egoism is the normative ethical position that moral agents ought to do what is in their own self-interest.  It differs from psychological egoism, which claims that people do only act in their self-interest.  Ethical egoism also differs from rational egoism, which holds merely that it is rational to act in one’s self-interest.

Ethical egoism contrasts with ethical altruism, which holds that moral agents have an obligation to help and serve others.  Egoism and altruism both contrast with ethical utilitarianism, which holds that a moral agent should treat one’s self with no higher regard than one has for others (as egoism does, by elevating self-interests and “the self” to a status not granted to others), but that one also should not (as altruism does) sacrifice one’s own interests to help others’ interests, so long as one’s own interests (i.e. one’s own desires or well-being) are substantially-equivalent to the others’ interests and well-being.  Egoism, utilitarianism, and altruism are all forms of consequentialism, but egoism and altruism contrast with utilitarianism, in that egoism and altruism are both agent-focused forms of consequentialism (i.e. subject-focused or subjective), but utilitarianism is called agent-neutral (i.e. objective and impartial) as it does not treat the subject’s (i.e. the self’s, i.e. the moral “agent’s”) own interests as being more or less important than if the same interests, desires, or well-being were anyone else’s.

Whichever school of thought you may align with, the fact that our decisions become politically charged without true comprehension happens to a majority of us in group situations.  An awareness of why we make decisions that have an impact on us and others just may help us to forge better ones.  A balance of approaches would be recommended by this author.  Being yourself, and remaining true to your beliefs no matter what the situation will often come to aid you when sleeping at night.  If you were still wondering, Yes, I was one of the two who received an A in that English class.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Mark Twain

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”
Mark Twain

Friedrich Nietzsche

“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”
Friedrich Nietzsche
Robert Frost

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
Robert Frost

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