Thoughts on health, happiness and sustainability

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The Religion of Normality

One of the things that has frustrated me most in life is the pressure in society to conform and maintain the status quo.

The world is full of people that I think are mostly good, but who believe that normal is synonym of good.  They believe that their normal way of living, or behaving, or eating, or working is the best way.

We believe that our culture and way of life is “civilized”, “developed” and founded in scientific and economic fact. Yet the truth is that the vast majority of people have never questioned the things that they consider normal. They never were involved in exploring alternatives to find the best of ways of living. Instead, they simply believe in the normality taught to them by their parents, relatives, friends, teachers and the media, who themselves were informed by the previous generations.

We tell ourselves that we are rationale and educated and that we make informed decisions, yet our entire way of life is founded on blind faith in the concept of normality that we were raised to believe in. Normality is our religion.

This is why those who dare to differ from those around them are quickly singled out, criticized and ridiculed. It’s not because they’re necessarily wrong, but because they threaten the religious faith that other people have in their own way of life. Things as small as choosing to dress differently, eat differently, have fun differently, believing in new ideas or choosing an usual career path can trigger powerful negative reactions from others.

The religious element is emphasized in our society by a belief in free speech that cannot be questioned and which is generally maintained for most people most of the time, but that disappears as soon as someone expresses an opinion that threatens the status quo.  However passively it is expressed, the person is branded as being preachy or evangelical about their views. In other words, they don’t believe in the same religion. You see, free speech has an unspoken caveat, that you should not express your religious views to those who do not follow your religion. You’re free to say what you like so long as you are talking to people that are likely to agree with you.

Religions may sometimes be beneficial to the world by providing moral guidelines, to encourage a better, more harmonious society, but religions have also held back progress by crushing new ideas and holding back change. We now live in a society that claims to be largely atheist and agnostic, but, in fact, maintains a passionate religious belief in our current state of normality. The problem is that not everyone is the same and that progress can only come from people daring to do things differently. The religion of normality discriminates against those who naturally don’t fit in and slows or even prevents progress towards a better world.

To create a better future for all, we need to become truly open-minded and accept that everything we believe in could potentially be wrong. It might sound scary, but when you move your mind in this direction, it presents a world of possibilities. There are opportunities to create a better life and a better world all around us, if only we can open our eyes and loosen our grip on the ideas that we call normal.

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