Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Road to Awareness

"The nature of cultural influences is such that we are seldom aware of them" (Hawkins and Mothersbaugh, 2010).

A scary thought, if you think about it. It's almost as if our actions, our thoughts, our responses, and even our identities are controlled by some unseen force. A force that doesn't really have a name, physicality, or even a separate presence from those it rules over. But how does it begin? Where does it originate from? And what does it take to change it?

Cultural ideals and norms begin with those in charge. Not necessarily just leaders, but those who, at some point in time, have had some form of dominance over another group often opposite from themselves. Male vs female. Caucasian vs all other ethnicities. Heterosexual vs same-sex unions. Able-bodied vs disabled. Extraverted vs introverted. Non-HSP vs HSP, and so on.

Cultural norms are a subtle way of controlling another group to be subservient, even invisible. Institutions, such as marriage, are a way of enforcing those norms. We don't know why we find it more acceptable for a female to be the one cooking, cleaning and happy to be tending to the needs of her children than a male. Or why it's only acceptable to think of romantic love as existing just between a male and a female. Most of us just do. We don't question. We don't think. We just follow the lead of our peers. At least what they openly express as being the "acceptable" way to be.

On the flip side, there are those that seem to automatically question what is. We say "why?" and "but that's not what I think" or "why not do it this way instead." We're the rebels. The worst nightmare of those pesky little up-tights I like to call "vanillas." Those who simply read the book, accept it as truth and follow it to the "t," making sure that all the "i's" are dotted as well. They operate in a sort of robotic darkness, unaware of what and why. Their actions and responses are automatic. They don't dig beneath the surface to find out what's real. They've never stopped to figure out who they are as an individual and that the possibilities of different truths and perspectives exists.

"Enlightenment" or "awareness" begins with questions. Those who dare to say there might be a different way to accomplish the same thing. Or that what we're accomplishing isn't what we should be. That validity is present in a seemingly opposite reality and while the two don't necessarily mix, their outer fringes fit together the same way two puzzle pieces connect. Those who are often different in some way to begin with. Not different in the sense of odd, quirky or beyond eccentric. Different in the sense of distinguished. Not snobby or elitist, but those who have a genuine desire to come to the aid of humanity and help the world evolve into a collective, nourishing existence.

Awareness can bring about change. It can validate the reason for keeping a portion of the status quo in place, while modifying the harmful portions into a more accommodating form. Awareness is often met with adversity, avoidance and a struggle to extinguish its voice. Those who choose to examine what is, pick apart its pieces and reveal the true motives behind them eventually find solutions that bring freedom. They bring freedom to the souls indentured to those who are unable to be who they are without intimidating dominance.

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