Smash the glass cages

Not everyone can be a celebrity or an astronaut, an explorer, writer, artist, model or business leader. We can’t all own fast cars or live in expensive houses or travel the world and do exciting things. We weren’t all born clever or rich or beautiful or talented or witty.

Hell, that’s a very long list of things ordinary people can’t do or be.

Many of us have a world view that puts a small number of privileged or special people at the top and the bulk of humanity at the bottom. It’s sometimes said that society needs a pecking order to keep it from falling apart. But I’d like to see a society where everyone moves up to the top. Such a society wouldn’t fall apart – it would advance rapidly and provide fulfilling lives for everyone.

One of the strongest trends of the past century is the breaking down of barriers – class, race, gender and sexual orientation. There are still some barriers in place, but now the biggest one of all is the one inside people’s heads.

Do we trap ourselves in glass cages that stop us doing or being what we really want? I think we very often do.

Here’s a practical exercise to help you break out of your glass cage. Pin a sheet of paper on the wall and write the heading “If I had a million dollars I would …” Then write a list of 10 things you really want to do. Now do the same with the heading “If I was clever I would …” and so on. Now cross out the headings and replace them with the words “To-do list.”

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10 responses to “Smash the glass cages

  1. We do need a pecking order to keep society from falling apart. We need hierarchies so that we can properly assign both authority and accountability. The question is not IF we should have a pecking order. The real question is how should be establish and maintain that pecking order for the benefit of society.

    • That’s not how I see it.

      • Then your looking for a utopian day dream, not examining what really is.

        • I am attempting to discover and articulate my core beliefs. One is that people do not have a right to impose their will on others, and that all should have equal opportunities.

        • There is a world of difference between establishing a chain of command, creating authority and accountability and imposing your will on others. Both are creating pecking orders. Establishing chain of command for the purpose of authority and accountability is needed for a functioning society. Imposing you will upon others is not.

          Within chains of command, you choose to opt in. It is a choice to put yourself in a position to follow instructions, take orders. You have no authority to make command decisions, but you also have no accountability.

          When imposing your will upon others, you are negating that choice. They must follow instructions, not because you are the one accountable and therefore have the authority. They must follow instructions not because they chose to be in the situation of follower, but because it was imposed on them.

          These are very different things that must be separated. With out pecking orders, chains of command, means to hold individuals accountable, society will fall apart. With out realistic means of opting out, these same institutions are effectively slavery.

          The question is not if there are pecking orders. The question is how are they created and maintained.

        • Yes, I see that, but I think that you are talking about the authority of institutions and office holders rather than individuals.

        • The institutions and offices do not exist independent of the individuals occupying them. Offices and institutions are not buildings but organizations of people, individuals. The individual has the authority. The individual has the power. The individual has the accountability. These things are aspects of the power structure of institutions, but they are not separate and distinguishable from the individuals that are office holders.

  2. As soon as I read “If I had..”, I recounted my list in my head.
    Then I read the last line and I was stumped. After a few seconds of pondering, I decided, ‘Why not? It is still possible. There’s no need to reject those ideas because I feel limited now.’

    • Good. Then my blog was worth writing and you have made my day!

      • The debate there was interesting. To me, a pecking order produces a leader, which most if society needs. However, people should never believe their place in that order is preordained or somehow fixed. Most people are fixed in their place in the order and that’s why we stagnate.

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