Branded by Convention

Do you think leaders want you to read? to draw your own conclusions and paint your own story? or do you understand that they don’t. They want conformity. It is the easiest way for them to lead. Without work. By blind acceptance of artificial truths.

Do you remember the first time you had your own money? Your mom or dad took you shopping and you were allowed to pick things out. I don’t. I remember having my own money but also having my mom not allow me to buy the clothing item or Star Wars figures that I wanted because it didn’t match the view of who she wanted me to be.

At 48, we still have this struggle. Clean shaven vs a beard. Tees vs collared shirts. She thinks of it as looking out for my best, and I see her point and accept her pov with love. Unfortunately, this same system is applied by the Democratic party towards potential voters and I don’t see their point and do not accept their vote shaming with love.

America was built, and maybe it is my naivety, on freedom. To me, freedom is when we celebrate others for being different, not aspire to be them. I think of Muhammed Ali. Best boxer of all time. Nice guy and revered human being. Champion. In his heyday, he was a feared man without a billion dollar industry trying to get fans to buy into the idea that they could be the next Ali. Today, we are all branded to believe we can be the next Ali. It’s not the case. There can be only one.

We are all forcibly taught to believe that we can be the next best thing in anything. I use the wrong verb there. We are not taught, we are branded or persuaded by the best in the business to buy into someone else’s story or to buy their product thinking the product is what makes the man. It is not the case. What makes the woman is her freedom to choose the path she walks. 

This is freedom. Not walking someone else’s path of how they see best. Freedom in essence is the ability to think however we want and come to our own destinations or conclusions whether right or wrong as long as it purposely harms no others or unwilling participants. Mistakes are okay. Life is long. 

It’s why labels of any sort are so scary. By applying one or owning or buying into one, we close the door on other labels, many of which we may not know or have yet to discover or we close the door on defining ourselves in our terms like Ali. He had a dream that I am sure someone said was silly along the way. He didn’t listen. So why is it so many do? So many let someone else paint their picture or direct their film.

I don’t most of the time. I have been the painter and director of my life. Am I successful? Not, if you measure me by someone else’s pov but am I a success when measured by the picture I wanted to paint or the film I wanted to direct? You betcha.

I learned early on that I didn’t fit the norms. I could beat back and forth across the field but I couldn’t kick the ball. I struck out at T-ball and never was given the chance to run to first base. I was short and small and not the right coloring in my neighborhood. I went to a school with mostly blonde and blues not browns and browns like the rest of the world who have just different shades. There was one Asian and one Black. Both lived on my street.

So from the onset of childhood I was taught to believe that there was US and Them, and in my case, I was defined as the “other.” I will tell you when you are taught that you are the minority, it is hard to support the majority. It feels like a treasonous act towards self.

That’s why so many “Others” have such a hard time in life. They are up against two majorities. One, the group that wants them anywhere other than next door. And the other majority want ‘others’ to believe that with their direction the life that will be painted is the one that is best. Same as mom but not with love, with the heavy hand of power.

Being forced to pick between two choices that don’t have your best interest at heart is not a pick and those who do, are branded to pick and choose between big name products. It’s not healthy or ethical for the individual since they are forced to cross their ethical lines to support products or ideals that they don’t agree with just to fend off an equally awful choice.

Politics should be about policy. Our policy vs their policy. Period. Not a high school popularity contest in which we elect the prom queen and king based on our feelings which is what it is now at the national level.

Americans represent a small number. 4%. That’s it. Our wealth and weapons make our reach greater but in the end, we don’t matter. We only matter to ourselves at national, state, city, familial and individual levels.

My advice, stop letting others tell you how to pick between right and wrong. You should define your ethics and make your choices accordingly. That is freedom no matter what level. In the end, life is long and it is also yours to live how you see fit, not have it painted or directed by others. It’s why reading builds leaders and leaders stop followers from reading.

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