Conformity vs. Collaboration

I was notified that it’s my WordPress anniversary! It’s not, that was on the 20th, the day after my birthday, but yay close enough!

I realized that it has been quite some time since I last posted. This blog has done much better than I expected, but not as good as I hoped. This is how much of my life goes and I could make the change, but I’m quite pleased with how the blog has turned out nonetheless.

I’ve been waiting to write this post for some time, but now I’m sitting in front of the computer at work and already tired of the homework coming my way, so I thought I might as well blog. As you probably know (unless you live under a rock to which you probably wouldn’t be on the internet, much less my blog), Robin Williams died on August 11th. It’s a terrible loss and I’m sure there are plenty of blogs that have discussed the terrors of certain depressions. I won’t be talking about that, but if you haven’t looked at the danger signs of suicide and other signs of depression, please begin googling.

What I’m more interested in right now is talking about one of the most inspirational movies that Robin Williams has played in that has affected me: The Dead Poet’s Society.

This movie has so much to it with a number of quotable lines, a love for literature, and the affect a teacher can have on a student. I hate writing summaries, so instead you should just watch it.

I do not know why this needed to be in gif form, but here it is.

This scene is when Mr. Keating brings out his class of boys and does an exercise where they are supposed to begin marching. With Mr. Keating starts counting, they all align and walk with the same step. He delivers the line above afterwards and then has them pick their own walk that differs from the rest. The school is trying to conform them, thinking that they will be more successful being the same than being an individual. This is partially true. Conforming will get you to be successful in the simple way. You’ll have an easier time finding a job and moving up in that job. What’s wrong with conforming?

There are no new ideas. I know quite a few people who think that new ideas are a waste of time and finding a good job is better. That’s a practical idea, but I personally believe happiness is much more important. While money does bring some of that, having an original thought and being able to make a difference if even slight will bring happiness and self-worth.

Now, to stretch this over to feminist movements. I find that people think feminism is all the same and people conform to one mold. Others think that feminism is an individual experience where your ideas are more important than others. This is where collaboration comes in. To be successful as a movement, we need to become one. This doesn’t mean stripping yourself of individuality. In the ideal feminist movement, there will be men, women, other genders, different sexualities, religions, race, cultures, classes, and so on. What will be the same is the result wanted: a society where people are valued for their differences and abilities. This does not mean creating a movement or a society where everybody is the same. Gender is specific whether or not it lines up with your sex. This is the same for all of the other criteria. Collaboration involves these individuals voicing their opinions that come together as one society.

Seems impossible?

That’s because it’s not easy. This isn’t going to happen overnight. It’s more likely going to occur over a few generations even if most everyone saw the possibility of this change. I recently re-read The Giver. In society, they are generally the same. While gender-sex does exist, there is no per-conceived notions of a socially constructed gender besides when girls and boys change their hair. This is not at all what I’m calling for. This society is not one that would be easy to have, but it’s one I feel that we should be working together for as a whole though it won’t necessarily happen. Reaching for the highest desire will get us closer to something more equal that we have now.

Collaboration and cooperation differs from conformity. Conformity is what The Giver has. If somebody doesn’t conform, they’re rejected. If you watch Dead Poet’s Society, you see that the school consists of all white males whose parents have the same goals for their children. When the students do something that does not conform to this ideal, they are punished. We have this in our society though at a wider scale and at a much more difficult level to see. We see it in the wage gap, we see it in the class systems that are racially unequal, we see it in the media if there’s somebody that isn’t within the Christian religion. People are punished because they do not conform.

Do not be afraid of collaboration. Become one while respecting and listening to ideas that may differ from your own. It’s important to have strong opinions, but make sure they can grow and change as the world changes.


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