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Adulthood

I believe that the most profound aspect of my continuing pursuit to be an increasingly competent human being is that over the last 15 years I have come to the point where I can no longer fathom–and barely tolerate, anymore–how it is that people can be so submissive to various self-proclaimed authorities.

Don’t get me wrong. Authority can be perfectly valid. Parents have authority over their children. Adults, to some extent, possess valid authority over all children in certain contexts. And then there are various forms of authority provided by mutual consent (employee/employer; teacher/student; etc.).

But I look around today, and I swear to God that I see almost no adults anymore. It seems to me that virtually everyone in the world is seeking some authority somewhere to tell them what to do about just about everything. Jesus Christ already; Grow Up, people.

Now here’s a couple of examples of what I’m talking about. I have two links, both of which go into some detail about what sorts of sexual practices are allowed or not allowed on the part of religious practitioners. There’s also a juxtaposition. Apparently, anal sex between a married couple is "undesirable" but ultimately OK, according to primitive Muslim clerics. On the other hand, official doctrine of the enlightened Catholic Church holds that a wife giving her husband a hummer is a "serious sin." Go figure.

Of course, from my perspective, none of it is particularly absurd and it’s completely logical given the premises people accept. You have to understand what it’s about. It’s about establishing authority, obedience, deference in all matters–even the most private and personal. Accordingly, the only real essential is to forbid something that lots of people will find pleasure in doing. And, of course, many will do it anyway, feel guilty, and you’ve got clay in your hands. Yea, I’ve posted about all this before–recently, even. It’s so formulaic. So obvious. Yet billions of people all over the world fall for it every day, over and over.

What’s absurd is that people think that they need any of this. They don’t. They don’t need one goddamned jot of it. I mean, it is so amazingly ridiculous to me that living, breathing human beings can actually bring themselves to ask some parasite in flowing robes, some bureaubot, some politician, some guru, some elite professor–or Oprah–what they should do and how they should live their lives. How they should fuck, for Christ’s sake.

Jesus. I live in a goddamed world populated by the equivalent of billions of shy and introverted tweenage girls with "self-esteem issues."

(Links: Hit & Run; To the People)

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

13 Comments

  1. kontan on January 27, 2006 at 14:30

    Was I supposed to be amused? I was amused. You make good points!

  2. Rich on January 28, 2006 at 07:26

    Well, Craig, it seems to me that there are two parts to this, the practical and the philosophic.

    In the practical, it's quite clear that people don't really need the authoritative guidance that so many seek. They may believe they do, but they don't. There are enough people making their way to their own drummer to be assured of that.

    As to the philosophic, well, we're talking about made-up fairy tales, so all this hedging, really, is just an aspect of the false belief that authoritative guidance is required in the practical sense.

    It's all a bunch of flim flam. That's simply what it is, and no amount of propping it up it going to legitimize it.

    Sure, people are free to believe and act on any silly thing they want, and a big part of me doesn't care. But if I do care about people in general, and I do, then I must from time to point out to them that they are wasting a lot of their real potential, even when it falls on deaf ears.

    People are far more than the pawns they allow themeseleves to become, being led around by people who know better.

  3. Daedalus on January 27, 2006 at 18:38

    I will return to my Harry Potter (children's book), or maybe watch Narnia (children's book), or perhaps I'll play with my toys now…

    Totally agree with you on this post.

  4. Kyle Bennett on January 28, 2006 at 09:59

    "Ignoring the advice of an omnipotent God, on the other hand, is a risk few believers are going to take. If they are wrong and there is no God, well, what exactly is it that they have lost by hedging their bets and seeking advice about life?"

    Pascal's wager again. The potential losses are tremendous. You stand to lose everythng you could have had in this life – not just material, but everything spiritual: joy, friendship, acheivment, and all that goes with it. Sure, you can acheive some measure of those things even with religion, but the extent to which you sacrifice your own values and judgement for somebody else's is the extent to which those things will be hollow and meaningless.

    You're betting all that you could be and have in this life against what you think you can potentially have in the next. But that bet is not such a sure thing. First, you have to be right that the next life really is there for you. Then you have to be right that that next life really will be what you think it will be. Worst of all, you are betting that the advice you seek from others, that you are letting override your own judgement, is good advice, and not simply manipulation by some guy who's not taking that bet, and is trying to get all he can in this life – at your expense.

  5. Craig R. Harmon on January 27, 2006 at 21:50

    As you said, it all makes perfect sense within the premises that people accept. Not everyone believes that doing what is right in one's own eyes is a virtue. It is certainly a vice in the hands of psycopaths. Many adults believe in a divine being who is, among other things, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and who can be both gracious and forgiving AND judgmental and condemnatory, depending upon the faith and behavior of the individual before the judgment seat of that being. Naturally, those people wish to remain on the good side of that being, hence the desire of Muslims and Christians to have opinions from those who have made their lives studying the expressed will of that being regarding what is and is not acceptable behavior in the eyes of God.

    To those who believe in God, "grow up, for God's sake" is not tremendously persuasive. Ignoring your advice costs them little and carries with it no risk of eternal condemnation. Ignoring the advice of an omnipotent God, on the other hand, is a risk few believers are going to take. If they are wrong and there is no God, well, what exactly is it that they have lost by hedging their bets and seeking advice about life? If there IS a God and they follow your advice, they are truly lost (and so, by the way, are you but I digress).

    Thus, while writing your article may have been therapeutic to you, allowing you to vent and belittle others, those for whom your advice was written would probably be well of saying, "Thanks but no thanks."

  6. mandrill on January 28, 2006 at 11:14

    The question then becomes "On whose say-so is the bible considered the source?"
    I agree completely with the post. Why should we let others define our existence? Authority should allow itself to be questioned, it should expect to be questioned.

  7. Ben on January 28, 2006 at 14:53

    +5 insightful
    I could go on about Gods, and spagetti monsters, and giant omnipotent lobsters, and pascal's lollies, but I won't, because then I wouldn't have time to write a Henry the Adequate story, and anyway that's not what I wanted to say. No, the bit that I came here for is coming up in the next paragraph.

    Great post, and excellent comments from Kyle and Mandrill. That's my opinion precisely. Now, please, tell me what I need to do next.

  8. Monika on January 28, 2006 at 10:31

    Trying going to the Bible instead of the gurus in the flowing robes. In other words, go to the source.

  9. J Macdonald on January 28, 2006 at 21:45

    I must say that I found it rather disturbing to hear about what the Catholic Church considers a "serious sin." Of course, Pope Benedict recently released his edict on Love and Sex might offer hope for the wayward Catholic.

    In the words of Eric Cartman, "Respect my awe-thority."

  10. Indigo Black on January 29, 2006 at 22:52

    One word: Sheeple. This country has lost all interest in cultivating people capable of independant thought.

    Good lord that came out probably more negative than I wanted but that's the truth.

  11. Kyle Bennett on January 30, 2006 at 06:28

    "This country has lost all interest in cultivating people capable of independant thought."

    But it's not "the country's" job to do that, it's everybody's job individually, and even then only for themselves and their children.

    Wanting "the country" to do it is itself a symptom of a less then fully developed capability for independedent thought.

    Not trying to rip you in particlar, Indigo, just to show how deep anyone has to go to root out those collectivist influences.

  12. Billy Beck on January 30, 2006 at 07:14

    So, anyway, Rich was moanin':

    "Jesus. I live in a goddamed world populated by the equivalent of billions of shy and introverted tweenage girls with 'self-esteem issues.'"

    …and it was just the other day when I saw this:

    "A 22-year-old pharmaceutical employee learned that he was not getting the promotion he had been eyeing. His boss told him he needed to work on his weaknesses first. The Harvard grad has excelled at everything he had ever done, so he was crushed by the news. He told his parents about the performance review, and they were convinced there was some misunderstanding, and some way they could fix it, as they'd been able to fix everything before. His mother called the human-resources department the next day. Seventeen times. She left increasingly frustrated messages…She demanded a mediation session with her, her son, his boss, and HR–and got it. At one point, the 22-year-old reprimanded the HR rep for being 'rude to my mom.'

    Another example:

    Cindy Pruitt, a professional development and recruiting manager with the national law firm Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, shares with disbelief a recent incident in which one of the firm's summer associates broke down in her office after being told his structure on a recent memo was 'a little too loose.' 'They're simply stunned when they get any kind of negative feedback,' Pruitt says. 'I practically had to walk him off the ledge.'"If this sort of thing isn't a decent snapshot of things at large, then I don't know why not. It certainly seems to meet my daily experience of life around beings far too characteristically fragile to be called "Americans".

  13. Indigo Black on February 1, 2006 at 13:01

    "Wanting "the country" to do it is itself a symptom of a less then fully developed capability for independedent thought."-by Kyle

    Thank you, Kyle, for allowing me the opportunity to clarify. I tend to write the first thing that comes to mind and while I know what I mean it dawns on me after the fact that not everyone else does.

    I'm not saying that it is the country's (as in the government's) duty to cultivate freethinking people. Yes it is up to the individual to seek that path themselves especially since our culture seems intent on churning out mindless consumers.

    What I'm trying to get at, and maybe unsuccessfully, is that our culture does not seem to value independant thought. They (phantoms, strawmen, the powers that be, whoever) would rather have people that are easily led and influenced and who will not quibble at the sight of the approching cliff.

    I see a nation that is overmedicated and undereducated. Big money is dumped into the creation of "Approved" drugs and money is sucked out of the educational systems training our leaders of tomorrow. I don't see a society that supports free thought except with lip service.

    I'm sorry if I come off sounding as though I myself am following a "herd" but I've thought about this a long and have formed this opinion based on my own observations.

    Hopefully this came across less muddled than I think. I've been up writing and my brain is fried.

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