“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
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844 – 1900) was a German philologist, philosopher, cultural critic, poet and composer. He wrote several critical texts on religion, morality, contemporary culture, philosophy and science. Central to his philosophy is the idea of “life-affirmation”, which involves questioning of any doctrine that drains one’s expansive energies, however socially prevalent those ideas might be. He had a very challenging life – many physical and mental problems. “God is dead” is a famous quote. Some thought he was an atheist, some that he was predicting the scientific view, others that he had a clear view of divinity. And, yet, he is thought of by many – not all – to have put forth some important ideas. (Taken, in part, from Wikipedia)
My take away from reading some of his works is his emphasis on “owning yourself.” He clearly saw how being a member of the tribe can rob each of us of who we are. I’m always amazed how easily we are programmed.
I attended a class in my 40s with others of a similar age. The teacher was helping us see how we had been programmed over the course of our lives. He played jingles from commercials that aired on TV 25 years prior to the class. He would only play one note and then the next and then the next. It was scary how quickly we could identify the jingle, sing the entire thing and remember exactly the visual that went with it back years ago. Totally useless information to be carrying around in our data banks. And, yet, it was there in its entirely. This was one of many exercises to show us the extent to which we had been programmed by marketing and the media. It was frightening. Reminiscent of 1984 by Orwell.
That class taught me a lot. I totally stopped watching TV – I don’t want to be programmed. Plus, I discovered a great deal of additional time to pursue what I truly love.
Cigarette commercials were taken off TV after the link between smoking and lung cancer was discovered. Only to be replaced by commercials for drugs. Marketing professionals are trained to create a need so their product can fill it. I wonder when everyone will wake up and these commercials, too, will cease? How many diseases are being created in the very open minds of viewers? How many programs are being installed?
When I put this together with the power of belief that has been shown by many scientific experiments, it makes me wonder about the general health of most people over the coming years? Seems like we are playing with fire?
So, back to Nietzsche – “The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe.”
And, to me, the struggle is critical. How else will I ever have the privilege of owning myself?