I should live my personal life in the most simple way. But we should live our collective lives (as a community) in a more complicated way. Let me explain. Simple individual lives would mean letting go of the desire to accommodate to the demands of the media, fashion, religion, government, and other social influences. I would not try to “fit” in to certain groups or certain kinds of people so that I can feel better about myself. My self worth (as opposed to self esteem) should come from within, not from others. When I grew as an adolescent, I desperately tried to fit in to a group so that I could be “cool” and accepted. But I feel I have grown to the point of realizing that I don’t need others to feel worth. So, instead of living a life of indulgence, self service, and vanity, I would empty myself from all of this superficial qualities and fill myself with peace, joy, acceptance, and service. I must let go of all the complicated demands that we allow others to put on us, and simply live one day at a time, accepting my faults and limitations, and embracing who I really am.
Now, on a social aspect, we would need to be a more complicated community. What I mean is, instead of simplifying our communities with segregating ourselves into individual subcultures (different races, ethnicities, fashions, religions), we should combine ourselves more into a more inclusive society. Instead of labeling some liberals and others conservatives, we should think “outside the box” and perceive ourselves as united citizens. We would need to refrain from thinking in dichotomies (black vs. white, religious vs. atheists, rich vs poor, democrats vs. republicans, educated vs. uneducated, us vs. them, etc. ). Dichotomy thinking separates us from each other. It makes us assume about who others are and what they represent. The famous author M. Scott Peck put it this way “We have an obligation to confront our simplistic thinking about what being ‘normal’ should mean: an obligation to use critical thinking”. We don’t think twice about many unjust assumptions. We often assume that mentally ill people are dangerous. We assume that all Muslims are terrorists. We assume that gays are perverts, religious people are fanatics, teenagers are lazy, the obese eat too much junk food, and that business owners are greedy. M. Scott Peck also wrote that “Many assumptions we draw from labeling keep life at the level of superficiality” (The Road Less Traveled and Beyond, pg 38). We are afraid of going deeper in our lives, and prefer to have a superficial, erroneous perception of the world.
This is because we don’t want to make the effort to listen to each other. It is much easier to simply assume and label other people, and have a preconception about the person, and move on. We are so concentrated in our own lifestyles and agenda that considering what others truly experience and believe in is not worth our time. We simplify our social lives to the point of neglecting each other. We must empty ourselves form all the preconceiving thoughts about each other, and start reaching out. We must deny ourselves so that we can effectively love our neighbors as ourselves.