"Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth." President John F. Kennedy
It is a curious fact that the man who propounded the idea of utilitarian ism, his body “Auto-icon” sits in the University College of London as a stark reminder of “The Greatest Happiness Principle.” The Principle stems from “the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong.” Seems that utilitarianism is good and anything but is wrong. This utilitarian concept is steeped in the ideals of conformity and brings with it the kinds of vapors that mute the innovative spirit. But close to his death even Jeremy Bentham was all but utilitarian in thought. Planning his “Auto icon” was a creative gesture that breaks with the utilitarian concept of conformity. After all it brought Jeremy the greatest creative pleasure to realize that his mummified head and his skeleton stuffed with hay would become his greatest pleasure before his death and a lasting presence.
Does conformity bring in the best out of human beings? That question is being answered tongue in cheek by conformity seeking experts all over the globe. It seems that these conformity-seekers might have misplaced the term collaboration with conformity. Since collaboration is the new buzz-word in business, it does not seem to fall too far from conformity. Consequently the merger has evolved over time into what is now known as “Group think.” That a universally accepted view should drown out outliers and become the defining thought for all. So the answer seems to be yes.
"The opposite of courage is not cowardice but conformity." - Jim Hightower
Society continues to evolve along those lines of redistributive purposing, whether it is wealth, property or ideas. The symptom complex of this conformity model is laid out in the education system where a universalization of the curriculum is in play. The current education system is nothing more than a format of conformity. Every child is taught the same stuff by the teachers who are taught the same stuff. Pretty soon if one extends the thought further this concept leads to a marginalized human intellect, or more appropriately termed a state of constant mediocrity.
A similar view is being forced down the medical care throat. This concept is governed by the “Guidelines” that are now reaching the tipping point of becoming mandates. A quote from the recent article in Scientific American caught my eye: "At best, these guidelines are recommendations based on scientific studies with results that pertain to the average among us. They do not adequately incorporate the personal differences and preferences of each of us as individuals. Furthermore, while these recommendations are based on clinical science, rarely is the science complete or incontrovertible. Hence, the recommendations are consensus statements reflecting the perspectives of those charged with the production of the guideline." Let us do a thought experiment here for a moment; If all maladies are governed through the auspices of guidelines then where is the magic of Art in medicine and where is the individuality of the patient being treated. A guideline form of medical care ultimately draws out and macerates any wisdom of finding a better way, a quicker way, a better treatment model or a more compassionate form of healing the sick. If all humans were equal in their physical states (as in robots) then a grease job here and an oil can there would work perfectly. Given the push and the tug today the Bentham’s “Greatest Happiness Principle” is being applied to all forms and norms of society. The codification of thought is being pursued at breakneck speed to usher in the era of a utilitarian medicine in a box that is made to resonate with the increasingly distracted populace. But John Rawl’s “Difference Principle,” which advocated that high productivity of some, gain advantages for all even the most disadvantaged, is thrown to the wind.
Conformity harkens the murky nature of a uniformity of thought and action. Compliance with conformity is the single biggest arbiter of modern day thinking and brings with it the torrents of “group-think.” It marginalizes and in some cases punishes a minority opinion. It suppresses excellence. Conformity brings in a mediocrity governed by the few. Conformity does not bring with it the “Ideal Splash” that Worthington so idealized.
"Diversity: The art of thinking independently together." - Malcolm Forbes
Yet in clear contrast to conformity, all the voiced viewpoints of the conformity advocates continue to express the benefits of diversity, unfortunately only in words. Those two points of view therefore become blatantly at odds with each other. Although they claim that seeking diversity of thought is a good goal, yet the formalization of conformity as the underlying principle of current thought and action virtually destroys the diversity argument.
Diversity is not just about color, culture or religion but is the grand dame of innovation, creativity and intellect.
It brings with it the varied opinions and from those a few will shine the brightest light. To look this in the eye, one only has to see that men like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos and others were all dropouts from the formalized education system who created and pursued a reality from a vision of their own. Had they been forced to conform, we might not have had an Apple, a Microsoft, a Facebook or Amazon today and the millions of people employed by these great companies.
Something to think about!
The deepest cut of all against the diversity of thought comes in the form of a pill. Today millions of children have been subjugated in their creative desires and in their expression of the inner intellect through the omnipresent diagnosis of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder).
Let us look at our children and their needs rather than what pleases and serves us as adults. Let us look at our patients rather than what pleases the insurers. Let us think diversity of thought rather than expression of “group-think.”
Let us think critically for a moment!
Let us think for ourselves for a change!
The future is ripe for the making!