I figure I am the freest person in the world. Adlai Stevenson once said:
Using that maxim as my baseline, I reckon that I come out on top when it comes to freedom. Popularity. I don’t get it. Never had it. Don’t want it. I have an aversion to following the herd. I hate the shoulder-rubbing.
Now you might say I am merely anti-social, not unpopular, and I wouldn’t necessarily argue with you. So what?
Popularity has never been my strong suit; I freely admit it. At social gatherings, the universe seems to revolve around certain popular people, like spinning planets around a sun. People flock to them to stand basking in the warmth of their smile and presence, to hear the comfortable words they speak. I, on the other hand, hover in some dim corner of the room, a dark moon traveling a distant, obscure orbit.
I do not say the above to bemoan my state in the universe of humanity. On the contrary, I relish it. I may not always be popular, but I am free, and for me, that is the thing…Freedom.
So, how do unpopularity and freedom link together? There is the obvious, of course. Believing in some concept or idea, not generally accepted by the world may be unpopular, but in a free society, we may believe it without fear of losing our liberty, or our lives.
For example, belief in God, or that there is no God, may be popular or unpopular, depending on where you are or travel. The realm of unpopular beliefs is vast and disparate and usually depends upon which side of the argument you stand.
- The world is flat; the world is round.
- Astronauts have landed on the moon; the moon landings are a hoax.
- The holocaust actually happened; the holocaust is a hoax.
- Lee Harvey Oswald was part of a vast conspiracy and one of multiple gunmen who assassinated President Kennedy; Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.
- UFOs are interstellar spacecraft that routinely break the laws of physics; UFOs have some rational explanation in science.
- Ghosts hover around in old houses and hotels; Ghosts are a manifestation of the beholders psyche.
- Bigfoot wanders around the remote forests of the south and far west; like ghosts, Bigfoot is a psyche manifestation of those who want to believe in the unbelievable.
- Elvis is dead; Elvis is eating cheeseburgers at a diner in Memphis.
You get my point. All of these are beliefs that may, or may not be, popular depending upon where you are in the world, your associations, who your friends are, where you go to school. However, in a free society, it does not matter how outlandish, even offensive, some of these beliefs may be, you are free to think them and free to be unpopular for thinking them.
For the record,
- The world is round
- Astronauts have landed on the moon
- The holocaust was a terrible act of genocide that did happen
- Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone (I’m going to get grief on that one, but I have stood in the Book Depository window and anyone remotely proficient with a rifle could make the shot, especially with a little practice, which he had)
- UFOs have some rational scientific explanation and are not interstellar space travelers
- Ghosts and Bigfoot are manifestations from within our own psyche or mental state
- And much to my great disappointment, Elvis is dead.
At least those are my beliefs. I have no doubt that many of you will find something there to disagree with and might even find me to be an unpopular sort of oaf with strange ideas. But that is my point. Unpopularity is a healthy sign of FREEDOM (yes, the use of upper case letters is intentional).
So why am I wasting your time on this issue? Because I am worried. I can’t help it. Sometimes I do that…worry.
My concern is that we may be losing much of our freedom because of a common quest for popularity, to be accepted by others. Many seem willing to buy into politically correct ideas that have no basis in truth, simply to avoid being labeled in an unflattering way, or to be considered outlandish, unpopular.
Personally, I prefer truth to political correctness, honesty to sensitivity, complete freedom of thought and action (as long as I harm no else) to being an acceptable member of the herd of humanity. I find the concept of wandering in step with everyone else, with the herd, frightening. To be afraid to make a moo that has a different sound than all the other cows, or to voice an opinion that may be different, peculiar or wildly strange for fear of what others might think, for fear of being unpopular scares the crap out of me.
Yet, it seems that as a society, we are becoming more willing to forego personal thought for the popular opinion. It is an insidious loss of freedom. We may not have reached the point of Orwellian mind control, with ‘Big Brother’ watching our every move, listening to our every word, but in my mind, we are definitely becoming increasingly desirous to be accepted by others, to be part of the herd, to think the way others do, to do the things that others do…to be popular.
So, I end this with a Salute to the Unpopular. Stay that way, my friends.
Best – Glenn