When my children were in school, there were two topics that I felt strongly enough about to stand up and defend at PTA meetings. One was (for) arts in education and the other was (against) uniforms in public schools.
At first glance, it may seem that the two causes are unrelated. Yet, if you take a closer look, you can start to see how they might be about the same thing. Go on, reread the opening paragraph. I’ll wait.
I’m sure you came up with something, but I’m still going to continue to explain what they mean to me because what connects them is what defines me.
I’m for creative freedom. Freedom of expression, freedom of choice, freedom of apparel, freedom of diet, and pretty much freedom of everything, especially freedom to think differently than someone else. Another word for this is independence. I value the right to have independent thought.
How does this relate to the two topics that brought me to my feet at PTA meetings? Arts in education provides children with the opportunity to develop their creative thinking skills, which is just as or more important than the rote memory skills learned. Wearing uniforms, or an attempt to make everyone look alike, is the antithesis of creative, independent thought.
I’m not expanding on those topics here. If you’re interested, I’m sure I can dig up some of my old articles on those subjects or feel free to write or call me. I still have plenty to say and share and I’m interested in your views.
Today I want to look at what happens when creative, independent thought and the freedom to express it is either not learned or stifled.
I was struggling to get this week’s article written. This is the fourth open Word document my very small laptop’s screen. Each file represents a crappy start. Frustration and fear that I’ll never be able to express a coherent thought was rising as time grew closer to the deadline to post.
I knew what I wanted to say but was writing circles around it, and I knew why. I was afraid to make a statement that revealed a truth about me but was controversial in content and might bring negative feedback and confrontation.
So, [taking a deep, breath] here is what I want to share:
I am not vaccinated nor I am going to be vaccinated for the COVID-19 virus, and I am deeply concerned about the lack of respect or tolerance for my choice. I feel as though the media and the vast majority of the population has typecast people who are hesitant about or adamantly against the vaccine as being selfish, stupid, Republican, or just plain crazy.
And it breaks my heart to have another thing to add to the list of ways we separate ourselves into Us vs. Them.
Before you rush to the bottom of the page to write a comment, please finish the article. I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind about anything, so have no fear that I will try to influence or critique your decision on the subject. Once you read this through, feel free to express your opinion here on this page.
You might wonder what inspired my breakthrough and enabled me to get this written. Here’s what happened.
Before I got the courage to write out my truth in a space where others could see it, I got an unexpected phone call from a friend who happened to be the first subscriber to my new blog AND the first to become a premium member. I was happy to interrupt my writing at that point for so many reasons!
My wonderful friend lives across the country and I haven’t seen or spoken to her in a while although we do connect via Facebook. As we caught up, she shared that she and her husband have been vaccinated and are indulging in the social activities they missed with their friends this past year. She asked how I felt about vaccinations and if I was going to get one.
She had been speaking quickly with enthusiasm but became quiet when I responded. What she said when she finally spoke again blew me away.
“You know, I really feel bad when I see all those posts on social media that call me stupid and mindless because I got vaccinated.”
Now it was my turn to be quiet because truly I was speechless! Finally I started to laugh and explained that I was trying to write about this very topic when she called and was having difficulty because of the torrent of public opinion that suggests that I am a conspiracy-believing nitwit and a danger to society because I didn’t want to vaccinate.
We didn’t discuss the merits or dangers of the vaccine on the call and I don’t plan to do so here either. I do want to talk about the mindsets and belief systems that create the reactions to statements that make us think twice before expressing ourselves.
We come into this world as creative, inquisitive beings without opinions, beliefs, or habits. All of that is learned via the socialization we receive from family, school, and media. Very little of our upbringing is devoted to developing creativity or independence. Even if we were raised by the most open-minded parents and attended the most progressive schools, our behavior was largely shaped by seeking approval. Creativity was encouraged so far as it met the expectations of those bigger, stronger, and more powerful. I’m not blaming anyone for this, but it’s how the system works.
Many schools, homes, classrooms, and work environments actively discourage creativity or independence. It’s impossible to control people who think differently. So from a very young age, we are taught to accept and follow rules—especially the ideas and dictums handed down by people whom we have learned to obey and whom we seek to please. This socialization is considered necessary to have a functioning societal structure, whether it’s the family unit, school classroom, community group, or workplace.
And that system has its merits. We do need structure to function in society. But where does the line between form and function blend and where does it crack?
When someone can’t speak openly or express thoughts without fear of being chastised, ridiculed, or rejected…that’s oppression. When the pressure to fit in supercedes the soul’s need for authenticity and communication…that’s repression.
When we’ve never been taught, encouraged, or shown how to develop our own thoughts, the natural response is to act and speak out against those who express differently. The deeper the core belief, the stronger the negative reaction. The larger the group holding a similar core belief, the greater the disruption and the greater the need to eliminate the challenging dissenters.
Hence, the polarity of living on this planet. But within each of us is the seed of that inner child who came into this world to learn, wonder, explore, and love life.
It is possible to have different ideas, beliefs, appearances, and opinions without making the other person wrong. We can learn how to think for ourselves. And even if that doesn’t change how we think or feel about something, maybe it can expand our minds to tolerate, if not accept or even respect, someone who doesn’t share our belief.
Truly the beauty of diversity is that we are different! That’s why we like “ethnic” foods and why we travel outside our little towns and cities. It’s why we admire the courage of the few who have the courage to stand out or stand up.
I don’t know if you believe in past lives, but I do. Some years back, I had my palm read by a medium and was told that I had been a scribe in an ancient culture. As part of my duties in recording the government’s laws, I came across mounting evidence that indicated the nation’s leaders were acting on greed rather than for the good of the society. I felt compelled to speak up, but it didn’t go well. I was discredited by the leaders, lost my position and standing in the community, and was ridiculed, persecuted and forced to live out my days in exile.
At the time, this resonated because although I was outspoken on certain matters, I had real reservations about disturbing the status quo or invoking criticism. It most certainly explained why I felt intimidated and reluctant to speak my truth at times.
Of course, many people feel these reservations and the situation described by the medium could be true for any number of people. But it felt right to me, and I have received additional collaborating insights from other intuitives.
I believe that I am here for a reason, and it’s not to expose a government or discredit anyone or anything. I am here to shine the healing light of love by speaking (and writing!) my truth and help others do the same.
No one has to be wrong for me to be right. I’m right for myself, as are you, and I honor the Spirit that connects us and all living things. The light in me sees the light in you. Namaste.
Subscribe to Shelley Writes
Subscribe to the newsletter and unlock access to member-only content.