Author: Tomas Marcinkievicus
I suppose if you are reading this portal, you are young, either in heart orin passport. Mladiinfo is about scholarships, grants and exchanges, so you have for sure travelled or you‘re about to do it and you‘re educated way better than 80 percent of people of this world. And while being young, travelling and educated, it‘s really easy to start seeing yourself as obviously free and open-minded, streaming your free will and cool ideas to whatever directions possible, changing thoughts, countries and people with no big regrets.
Myth of Freedom
Well, dear libertarians, I have to disappoint you: you all belong to a sect. Social constructs and organizations with their distinctive philosophies, lists of rules, traditions, initiation and excommunication rituals lead your lives, as well as ours, from the cradle to the grave. Unless you follow the not-so-wise example of that guy from Into the Wild, you are pretty much unable to escape it, so enough with your illusions.
The first sects that you don‘t even choose are your family, state and religious background (atheism is as binding as any other), or, to say it all short and clear, Home. Dream of escaping these three dragons and becoming truly free, expressed by James Joyce, haunts artists and their look-alikes for ages. Sadly enough, it‘s as possible as counting to infinity or finding the actual end of the world, at least until brain transplantations become possible.
„But what after that?“ you might ask, and you might think once you‘re „independent“ from your parents, Republic and Church, you‘re not in any sects anymore. Well what about your work, friends, theatres, cinemas and bars that you visit, sports you engage in, books you read and movies you watch, your political beliefs, pets, sexual life? We‘re social animals, and from neonazis to anarchists, from members of bank boards to drunk bohemians, from Tea Party to flaming homosexuals, from US army men to Salvation Army volunteers, from civil aviation pilots to hitch-hikers, from French bulldog to French Citroen owners, we tend to flock to smaller or bigger sects, and we belong to tens and hundreds of them at the same time.
We follow their statutes of our sects with or without acknowledging it, and sometimes we‘re even ready to sacrifice precious things to gain hierarchy in them. The whole is more than the sum of its parts, and these social organizations are not mere gatherings of their members: traditions and behaviour models turn them into independent creatures, able to live and die, think and manipulate, ready to kill to survive. And love, what about this divine privilege? Well, lovers, as Kurt Vonnegut defined it, „create a state of two“, one of the strongest, most involving, aggressive, militant, suicidal and individuality-limiting sects ever…
Some sects, such as hitch-hikers, punks, volunteers, couchsurfers, drug addicts, casanovas, international youth, artists etc. tend to mask themselves with this illusion of freedom. Actually, they are stronger than any other: statute of open-mindedness, single-serving friends and lovers, not attaching, faithlessness and questioning keeps these social animals in hard frames.
So you have a scale of choices. Mr Happy P. Idiot stands on one end of the scale, „P“ standing for „Pragmatic“. He is happy about his sects, love them sincerely, crave for belonging to more and more of them and rising in their hierarchy. He is similar to a member of a wolf pack: while the leader wolf is strong and healthy, he acts as a nice friendly puppy, but once the leader‘s feeling of scent betrays his hunting skills, he‘ll be the first one to shout „Le roi est mort!“
We all know people close to this model. There are girls who dream of princes on white horses; workaholics who experience wet dreams of promotion; „local bohemians“ living in the same bar for years and years; social losers who spend their lives smoking marijuana and browsing the internet… Their main advantage is that these people are, as mentioned before, sincerely satisfied: their needs end at the top of Maslow‘s pyramid, they sleep well, no clouds of doubt cover their bright July sun. However, there is a big difference between Sancho Panza and Leonardo da Vinci.
Then, on the other end of the scale, there‘s The Artist. Titles and surnames are too mainstream for him, except maybe for Don Quixote. He doesn‘t go Home, he just changes places, even if this means he will never be content, he refuses to make any choices at all and succumb to any sects, he understands and speaks truths of absurd and chaos, he‘s motherf—ing Tyler Durden himself. Though these creatures are usually real (?) intellectuals and artists, neglecting social norms and natural needs might bring them to their bitter end of loneliness and regret. Also, as said before, sects of those who think they don‘t belong to any sects are usually the fiercest ones.
So? Should we, young travelling educated people, be happy fools or asocial geniuses? Not everything‘s so simple, for sure, but there‘s another way, and it‘s called acrobatics. Combining understanding and feeling, love and independence, safe zones and outskirts, cooperation and resistance is no easy task, probably it‘s even impossible, but, as Buddhists say, it‘s the way that matters, not the destination.
Some say that we are nothing but social constructs, but I‘d never believe that. We all have the choice not to choose, and we can all break our old ways. So name your sects, whether it‘s Evil Corp. or International Community of Loners, and try to escape them just for a little while, just to have fun and to check your love for them. Just do it 🙂