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I am sure one day the word Sheeple will end up in Webster’s dictionary – it is such an entertaining and descriptive word. From Wikipedia: The implication of sheeple is that as a collective, people believe or do whatever they are told, especially if told so by a perceived authority figure believed to be trustworthy, without critically thinking about it or doing adequate research to be sure that it is an accurate representation of the real world around them.
People want to be accepted by friends and society, so it is hard to constantly challenge the perceived limitations of your surroundings without eventually losing some of that acceptance.
Having a very strong opinion or value is often met with disdain. Think about it, what about the person is determined eat only local food, turning their nose up at sugar and imported apples – they are very determined to be this way, how do you feel about them? Or the person whose main purpose in life is to fight for equality for their race – everything in their life is seen through the lens of achieving this dream, does this endear you to them?
What about the happy go lucky person, who plays within the rules and looks at the bright side of most situations. They engage in meaningful conversation and won’t rain on your parade, but they don’t personally challenge the system. Sometimes they might talk about it, ponder what sucks and what could be better – but grabbing onto a mission and moving change forward is out of their comfort zone. That is me, that is most of the people in my life. And I feel like we are all sheep.
Is that bad?
Are we just generally happy with the society we live?
Are we hesitant because what we fight to change for might end up be much worse than what we have?
Is our context just so small that we can’t imagine any independent action that would improve our life or the world around us?
I think might be it. We are surrounded by large companies and big government. Our communities are fractured and most people spend hours each evening watching TV or surfing the internet instead of hanging out with neighbours or contributing to their surroundings. Very few people have influence and connections at the corporate or government level – so the understanding what is good and bad and what can change at the level is out of reach. The media we devour is national and global.
But we have abandoned the place where everyone of us could have this knowledge and impact – our neighbourhoods, towns and cities. So we are all sheeple in the context of these huge complex societies (corporations and governments) – we are all armchair experts in this area. But in the one area we could be trailblazers and an active part of the evolution, we shun – staying in the comfort zone of our household and workplace.
Writing an article for the NY Times is a little far fetched for more us. Writing an article for a community association newsletter would be easy and most welcomed – heck you could even be the editor.
To not be a sheeple – it isn’t hard… you just have to make an effort to contribute at your level of influence. Get organized, get involved and show you care in active ways. I think if we all did this we would see more diversity and more vibrant communities.