Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote: “A man must consider what a rich realm he abdicates when he becomes a conformist.” In further research, I found that another quote serves well to be remembered on this day, when the troubles of the world include questions related to “which bathroom” should be used.

Again, from Emerson: “Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members… The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs.”

I am a martial artist. I write, and I have worked in entertainment arts for a number of years. Both in front of, and behind, the camera. In that time, I have not had occasion to be repulsed by any person based on religion, persuasion, or sexual orientation.

The world is made up of many different kinds of people. People I do not necessarily agree with in any form or context. What then causes others to ‘hate’ the chosen lifestyle of the people they encounter?

The easy answer voiced by most is one of fear. However, ‘fear’ is not an honest appraisal of any situation. You fear what may happen – even as it may never happen. You fear what has happened, but it is over. The aftermath can cause PTSD, or any number of depressive named disorders, which are generally treated by doses medication masking the true cause of the pain a person feels inside.

The Army used to have a banner that boasted of an “Army of One”. Now it is all about the ‘team.’
So, my rant this day is not about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. It is not about being, or not being, transgender. It is not about gun rights or gay rights. It is about what is wrong with conformity. The unnatural aversion to self-reliance.

There is something special about watching people marching, martial artists demonstrating forms together, and drill teams acting in unison. We all look for some outstanding feature that separates one group from another. We seek those who excel situations where ‘breaking out’ is an expected thrill.

In the ‘real’ world there are those who are content with the nine to five job and traditional workweek. Content to move on to recreation, sports, or just watching television until the new week presents itself to return to the grind.

My father-in-law recently passed. A good man, married to the same woman for 58 years. Living in the same house they bought as newlyweds. Working for the same company for 41 years. His brief dalliance with ‘moonlighting’ was to serve in the US Army reserves. Most of the time, he worked 60 hours a week and spent the rest of the time with his family. Hunting, fishing, racing go-carts, sports, Boy and Girl Scouts. In this life, he was a true success.

In his final years, a kidney transplant, knee replacement and finally succumbed to cancer. I cried for the man he was, and is, still. To have lived a life of his choice – seemingly in conformity.

To me, this man is that Army of one. To have loved, and have that love returned. To have the chapel of his funeral procession overflowing with those whose lives he so positively affected. His last conscious outcry before succumbing was the name of his beloved wife. In anguish, he thought only of leaving her behind.

The ‘how’ of this reconciliation between Conformity and Self-Reliance must then rest with those whose choices are made for the sake of a higher law. How can we be left to federal and state authorities to determine how everyone can be ‘equal’? Those who cry foul act under pretense of long-held ills? It is not that the state needs to permit everyone to be on an even keel and to do as they please. Should everyone then act as they please, no matter the circumstance? Why is it that the terms ‘right’ and ‘privilege’ are interchangeable in the minds of so many? That Constitutional guarantees are items of scorn, while whimsical theories presented in ‘sound bites’ are mistaken for factual grounds of constitutional discrimination?

The radical approach that I would ask you to then consider is this; rely on your own research, investigation and the Gog-given mind you were born with. Shun the common narrative. Eschew the processes of protest and discrimination that are rampant among every community. When all has been considered, decide for yourself whether one voice; one person; once kind act; can make the difference in the lives of others – and in doing so, the betterment of our country.

Otherwise, to whom must we conform?

Which segregated party must we seek to have a sense of belonging. For if we are no longer Americans, but fractionalized into so many groups that our true genealogy has been lost, then how do we realize our future? Are we the anarchists of the end times? Preppers readying for the battles to come?

Or, are we those who choose a higher law? Choosing to return to our families and the importance of providing positive outlets that support others, not destroying what could be the best of our future.

What remains is to provide a balance in all things. Moderation of thought. Strength of character. An honored legacy.

In this, we are sure, to a fault. In this, we must change from base personal infrastructures. Our family unit. Our personal ability to endure. Not throwing away marriages because we find them too hard. Not partaking in wild abandon, when the life we have never truly committed to remains steadfast as our storm’s refuge.

Cherish your children for the day has come when the father remains far from the home; the love of money, a presumed easier life; and/or because the cause of love, once professed, has dulled from personal lack of effort and care.

Many do not realize that there are these spouses who simply give up after years of trying to please their mate. Knowing all along that the love professed was a childish lie.

If you need a roll-model, look to those closest. If that is not available, maybe look to those in life whose compromise is not without much anguish and supplication. Then define your life by living your dreams. Let no one tell you what cannot be accomplished. Rely on yourself, for those who profess to stand fast in your support will often hide from reality when you need them most.

Produce your own “It’s a Wonderful Life”, from the manner you choose to live – without condemning others. Only then will you come to understand why we love those movies that reflect ‘how’ one person (man, woman, or child) has made a difference.

People change. No matter your history, you have the right to change. You have the right to be respected. You have the right to be known for the personal stand you take in all things. I guess Emerson had it right:

“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.”

May your life be led by your chosen principles, refusing to be led by others in their quest for mobocracy.