Ripples: Conformity

Planting the grain kamut in the Nile river valley was an experiment that eventually established agriculture and a settled, agrarian way of life. It has been suggested that women took note of the cycles of Nature and were the first to cultivate produce.

Long before kamut was grown in irrigated patches along the Nile, the location of strawberry patches or root plants were known by nomadic people within their territories. Women learned the herbs and edible vegetation and gathered it. Men learned to identify edible plants when gone for days on the hunt. But once grain began to be cultivated, humanity began the long and current journey of its own conformity. First settlements, then societies, and then cultures developed based on the fertility of the land, the cycles of the Earth, and the spirits that brought the food forth.

Territories, ownership, need and greed established themselves as people conformed to an agrarian settlement to protect and a keep way of life. This also meant that uniformity of culture, dress, language, and societal norms would establish. Thus a codifying separateness would undermine the possibility of pan-culturalism for thousands of years. Peoples and cultures that retained a largely nomadic way of life (Mongols, African tribes, Sioux for example) were deemed culturally “savage” or “barbaric”.

Control Key on Computer KeyboardConformity requires that people conform. And since conformity ultimately means control, then any attempt at conformity is actually an attempt to control. Consider slavery, prostitution, or the breaking and binding of women’s feet. Consider the control of education:

  • who is educated through history and who is not,
  • access to it,
  • standardized curriculum,
  • what is taught and how,
  • as well as the end results).

Another thing to ponder is religious conformity and its part in great wars, genocides, racism and bigotry, as well as the eradication of indigenous or pre-established belief systems. Finally, contemplate political conformity and how alternative views are usually deemed crazy or radical because they do not conform.

This list could go on. All we have to do is look at the mobile device in your pocket (if you have one). Is it an android or an iPhone? Conformity. And consider the control that Apple has on the technology market now that it is top dog. Is conformity a bad thing? That would be simplistic. Yet if we consider Nature, she uses repetition to accomplish the goal of perpetuation of a form and species yet the variety of both (form and species) is astounding. Difference and mutation have driven Nature to be the thriving whole that it is. Routine or repetition are closed loops of non-creative activity. Where there is simply repetitive doing, there is no creation being generated. Creation requires the volatility of difference; dynamism is generated. So although an elm tree is not an oak, they are both trees. Uniformity, conformity, and difference interact causing species to thrive.

At some point in the human mind, conformity tilts into uniformity. There is danger in both. Reflect on modern western medical practices: cookie cutter drug answers for individual people with a set of symptoms. The symptoms are a complex set inter-dependently acting upon one another and the person is a set of circumstances of life, love, work, environment, and more. There is as little the same about two people as there is an elm and an oak. Both are trees, as two people are people. Yet, they are also unique and requiring more than the surface view of uniformity and the conformity in order to truly thrive.

jumpThe ripples of conformity and the drive to control has created our current world situation in every regard. Think about it. The only way to change the current set of interlocked problems currently facing humanity is actually to break free of our tendency to make things controllable. Our species is due for some dynamism and life-necessary change.

About Donna Mitchell-Moniak

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