Isaac Asimov created in ones of his book a perfect world, with the help of genetic engineering. In that world, the skills of every new born were selected based on the need of the society: 4 doctors, 3 architects, 2 swimmers, 1 football player and so on.
Imagine that world… Perfect beautiful kids that would never misbehaved, that would be never late, never talking back and never joining the wrong group of friends. No stress in choosing your school. No discussion with the family about the tradition that you should or should not followed, no competition when entering a school, because you were design for that place. No stress in finding a job. No stress in finding your partner, you would be attracted by a certain type. No stress in having unwanted or wrong timing children. No unemployment, no sickness, no criminals, no crisis. Imagine that. How would it be to live in this kind of world?
In every real society there are written or unwritten rules that make it work. Being part of the main stream and following those rules makes your life easier. Being normal may be defined as: being a respectful child, being good in school, getting a job, marring, being retired, having grandchildren and never make anything to embarrass your family. Any deviation from normal is “different”. There is large range of differences in this word from having a strange hairstyle, or choice of cloths till having a total different life style and values in life. What is happening then? The society tries to bring you back to the main path by education, family, school, work environment and laws. This pressure is in good correlation both with the degree of your deviation and the evolution level of the society. If in middle ages in Europe and nowadays in Ghana you can be burnt if considered a witch. A different sexual orientation could get you killed, into jail, or could be a perfect choice for a candidate to presidency – depending on the country. Why being different is so scary?
Albert Einstein wrote, ‘Everybody is a genius! But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid!’ is not a little like all these different persons are fish and all what society tries is to climb them in tries and then wonder why are they not good at it?
Can we afford to waste the special talents of all this different individuals just because they are not within the standards? We have a lot of references in the history when the standardization not only failed but damaged deeply the society.
I believe that every one of us has a unique individually that defines it as a person. We should be really careful not to lose those special feature under the pressure of the society, the family, the love ones. I understand that everything is a compromise, but we need to ask ourselves from time to time: is this the life that I really want? Do I really want to spend 8 – 9 hours a day working for this company? Am I really happy in my relationship? Is this the right path for me? You might be surprise by your answers. I was. Sometimes I was happy and satisfied, sometimes I needed a change and have to start working in that direction.
I believe that we also need to ask our self when meeting colleagues, neighbors, stranger walking on the street, looking or behaving different: Do I understand and respect his or her choice to be different? Is there something in that human been that I could learn? A special skill that I or our society needs?
In Asimov’s book, after a period of perfect harmony, the inhabitants of the perfect world realized that the society stopped progressing. There was no need and no drive to make any step forward. In addition by annihilating the diseases of the society and raising the lower limits, they also managed to lower the higher limits in a see of mediocrity.
The conclusion was that we really need these peaks: the eccentrics, the extravagances, the freaks, the geeks, they are the ones that pull the society affront. They are the ones that have the courage to be unsatisfied with how the things are and to look for solutions where “normal” people are not.
Being different is a gift. Cherish it!