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Think as you like but Behave like others

If you make a show of going against the times, flaunting your unconventional ideas and unorthodox ways, people will think that you only want attention and that you look down upon them. They will find a way to punish you for making them feel inferior. It is far safer to blend in and nurture the common touch. Share your originality only with tolerant friends and those who are sure to appreciate your uniqueness.

We all deceive and hide our true feelings, for complete free expression is almost a social impossibility. From an early age, we learn to conceal our thoughts, telling others what we know they want to hear, watching carefully lest we offend them. For most, this is natural. There are ideas and values, which most people accept, and it is pointless to argue. We believe what we wish, then, and wear a mask.

"Look around you," said the citizen. "This is the largest market in the world."
"Oh, surely not,"" said the traveler."
"Well, perhaps not the largest," said the citizen, "but much the best."
"You are certainly wrong there," said the traveler, "I can tell you..."
They buried the stranger in the dust.
R. L. Stevenson

There are people, however, who see such restraints as an intolerable restriction on their freedom, and who have a need to prove the superiority of their beliefs and behavior. Their arguments convince only a few and offend a great deal more. The reasons argument does not work is that most people hold to their beliefs without thinking about them. There is a strong emotional content in their beliefs. They do not wish to rework their habits of thinking and when challenged, directly or indirectly, they become hostile.

Wise and clever people learn early to display conventional behavior and moth conventional ideas, with the need to believe in them. The power gained from blending in is that of being allowed to have the thoughts they want and to express them to the people they wish to express them, without suffering ostracism, isolation, or criticism. After they have established themselves in a position of power, they have the option of convincing a wider circle of their beliefs and values.

If Machiavelli had a prince for disciple, the first thinh he would have recommended him to do would have been to write a book against Machiavellianism.

Do not imagine that the old orthodoxies are gone. Jonas Salk, for instance, thought science had gone beyond politicas and protocol. And, in his research for a polio vaccine, he broke all the rules - going public with a discovery befor showing it to the scientific community, taking credit for the vaccine without acknowleding the scientist, wh paved the way, and making himself a celebrity. The public may have loved him but scientists shunned him. His disrespect for hs community's orthodoxies caused him to be isolated and cost him several years to heal the breach, while struggling for funding and cooperation.

Imagine the black sheep. The flock shuns the black sheep, being uncertain of tthe black belongs with them. So, it struggles behind, or wanders away from the flock, where it is surrounded by wolves and devoured. Stay with the group - there is safety in numbers. Keep your diffezrences in your thoughts and not in your fleece.

People of power avoid the offenses of Salk. They learn to play the clever fow, with the common touch. This is the ploy of fraudsters and politicians. Julius Caesar and Franklin Roosevelt overcame their natural aristocratic stance to cultivate a familiarity with the common man. They expressed this familiarity in little gestutres, often symbolic, to show people they shared their values.

The logical expression of this practice is the ability to be all things to all people. When you go into society, leave behind your ideas and values and wear the appropriate mask for the group, in which you find yourself. Bismarck played this game for years. There were people, who vaguely understood what he was up to, but not clearly enough to raise concern. People will go along because it flatters them to believe that you share their ideas. They will not think of you as a hypocrite, if you are careful. Nor will they see you as lacking values, because you share their values, while in their company.

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