Tuesday, November 2, 2010


The herd instinct in is very strong in human beings. We follow the herd. We have an inborn desire to belong to a group. We feel lonely and miserable when we don’t have a group to belong to. Some people can to do almost anything to be accepted by a group.

You feel safe and more relaxed when you have found a group who accept you; a group with a set of ideas and beliefs to fall in with, a gang, a pack, a religious or spiritual community, a political party, a bunch of pot heads, a bunch of activists, a bunch of would be artists, a bunch of down and outs, a workplace, a company, a family, an identity…

However, the flock behavior looses its grip over us when we grow older. Older people are no longer desperate to fit in. We loose interest in dress codes and social codes. We need a group who accepts us, yes, but not at all costs. We don’t need to become something anymore. We don’t need to prove how good we are. We don’t care too much about belief systems any longer.

Some older people, though, hold on too tightly to their beliefs and outdated worldviews. They have a problem with the transition. They have been conservatives, racists, or social climbers for so many years and they believe that there is nothing else in life to live for but status and money. It is similar to when teenagers have a problem with the transition to adulthood. It is like when thirty years olds act like teenagers.

It is similar to when 10 years olds still believe in Santa Claus.

It is also similar to, for example, when the Catholic Church refused to accept that the earth was not at the center with the sun and the moon revolving around it. The scholastic authorities refused to even look through a telescope. Galileo was wrong. If he was right, their worldview would fall apart and this was of course impossible. The church was infallible. The Catholic Church kept Galileo’s books on astronomy on the index of prohibited books until 1835.

Religious and political fanatics, mainstream fanatics, sports fanatics, criminal gangs, drinking buddies, there are so many different groups of people we can end up with and which we eventually have to abandon in order to grow.

It can be very hard, though, to abandon a group, a sect, a worldview, a false belief, a political opinion or a religious misconception. It can be as hard as it is for an alcoholic to give up alcohol.

We have to face it. Either we keep on drinking or we don’t. Either we keep on trucking, or we don’t. Either we wake up or we don’t.