Day in and day out I watch the world pass me by. I watch and listen intently. I watch as the many live their lives not for themselves, but for others. They live for others not in altruism, but selfishness. They tailor their every action, thought, and spoken word to conform to those of others. They are not willing participants but conformists. They are not their own masters; they are the puppets. They do what is easy, they sell their souls to others. They become what they believe others want them to be. They are the mass-produced. Their voice is lost in the roar of others. Their thoughts are nothing more than what they have been told to be. The measure of success becomes the number of likes, followers, “friends,” and level of conformity.
Free thought is drowned out by the megaphone of social and mass media, and the visceral divisions they have created. The world is an “us” and “them.” Each their own simple box for which we must place ourselves in. You are either for or against. You are a friend or foe. There lies no room for moderation, complexities, or nuances. There lies no room for thoughtful conversation and debate. There is no room for self-criticism. The masses seek to sell their souls to the soulless. They seek not their own gratification, but gratification through others. Worth is not possessed by the self but by those who care nothing of it.
I sit and watch the world pass me by. It is like I took the red pill. My value and worth are possessed only by me. I have chosen the difficult task of possessing my own soul. I watch as the many seek to conform, selling one piece of their soul at a time. I watch as others stop and observe in confusion. They observe as I act as I wish. They listen in confusion as I speak my own voice, one of self-criticism, moderation, complexities, and nuances. They observe as I walk to and from the “us” and “them,” the friends and foes, the “for” and “againsts.” They observe with some inkling of jealousy as I pass through life as I please. While others stress about their value to others, I look no further than the mirror. My friendships are not those of distant faces on a computer, they are the ecliptic faces of flesh and bone. They are the friends of nuance. They are friends of great complexity. Our friendships are not those of conformity. Our friendships are based upon our complex, free, and often differing thoughts.
I have chosen what I fear so few others have. I have chosen to protect and defend that which I see as most valuable. The thing that I believe makes us who we are. I have chosen to possess my own soul, against immense pressures. With each passing year, it is a task that seems to become more and more difficult as others seek to possess it. They wish to dictate what they cannot: my self-worth, my happiness, my every being. What a world this might be if we possessed our own souls and our values were possessed by the self.
Jake Smith is a law enforcement officer and former Army Ranger with four deployments to Afghanistan.
As the Voice of the Veteran Community, The Havok Journal seeks to publish a variety of perspectives on a number of sensitive subjects. Unless specifically noted otherwise, nothing we publish is an official point of view of The Havok Journal or any part of the U.S. government.
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