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On Being Different – Pt. 2 (Inspired By Convenience Store Woman)

Cont’d from Part 1 …

Having discerned between agitation rotten and useful, move forward we may, sometimes in unison, other times as rogues.

As for Trump and Con — and Brexit and Con, Putin and Con, Erdogan and Con, and all ‘outspoken’ populists-slash-shysters out there — they spoiled it for everyone, especially the free-thinking, forthright, non-conformist individuals among us. The greatest casualties in the populist onslaught so far (right and left) are decency and civility, yes. We’ve seen plenty of damage done, many a noble institution hijacked and raided, put to ill use. Many crimes were committed in the name of indignation gone feral.

But the casualty that no one talks about, the one that will haunt us long after Shysters R Us are gone, is the inevitable vilification of anyone who dares challenge the norms.

Yes, the populists have successfully tainted the notion of swimming against the tide, the idea of challenging groupthink and the imperative behind lambasting the mainstream. In their rabid effort to resist the elite circles and their business as usual, populists have ruined it for anyone who dares go against convention.

People are so mad at populists — almost as mad as populists are at them — that things are bound to escalate. There will be a correction. The restoration that will follow won’t be pretty. The research I’ve done over the years shows just that political restoration comes with a heavy dose of overcompensation.

The upside is, an overcorrection may consolidate an economic-political-cultural system mindful of our natural (finite) resources and the surrounding environment. Those who rise up to fix the world will in all likelihood smash their way through the boundaries, and that’s not entirely bad when you consider their positions: environmentalism and sustainability. The conformity that will be exacted of everyone will at least be on the right side of history.

In the meantime, there’s delightful yet poignant books like CSW (see cover) to remind us that difference is an asset, one that is especially valuable in systems that thrive on conformity and mimicry, social proof and groupthink. As long as one doesn’t abuse his or her difference of opinion, the book reminds us, it’s good to be the outsider. It’s tough, often grueling, but it pays dividends in the end; sometimes; given enough time for the world to turn around and entertain that ‘other’ point of view, or for the one under scrutiny to go it alone, naysayers by damned.

It’s a rewarding path. If you hurt no one, help others, or contribute in some way, you’ll have done fine, if not better than most, my fellow rogues.

From your delightfully irreverent Spin Doctor,

Eyes open, mind sharp.