Opting Out

Call it swimming upstream, bucking the system, or perhaps being a rogue. I, however, prefer to simply call it “opting out.” In short, it’s taking the road less traveled;

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

Most folks shrink from the thought of going against the current, and I understand why. Most of us harbor a herd mentality that must be consciously worked on to overcome. We’re hyper-sensitive to others’ opinions, and fear the derision that the lunatic fringe always encounters. That’s normal, but to not think for oneself is equally perilous, in my opinion. Following the crowd will sooner or later lead you to a cliff where it becomes extremely hard to turn back and find your way back to safety. Which brings me to;

“Those who follow the crowd usually get lost in it.”   ~ Anonymous

“Change before you have to.” – Jack Welch

In this day of political correctness in nearly every facet of life, along with a host of cultural norms that shape the lives of many, opting out and thinking for oneself is something of a rarity. However, as many “normal” cultural expectations become increasingly unstable and questionable, more things beg for reexamination and serious consideration. Such as public education vs. private or homeschool, corporate or government employment vs. self-employment, vaccination vs. natural immunity, processed supermarket food vs. local real food, conventional medicine vs. home remedies, hospital birth vs. home birth, social media vs. family and friends, and the list goes on and on.

Esther and I sort of happened upon unconventional farming and food production unaware that it was a controversial position. It was the first leg of our opt-out journey, but like opting out usually does, it opened our minds to other areas in life that need examination and re-thinking. It has been an exhilarating journey over the course of the past 15 years—certainly not without its challenges—but well worth the controversy and opposition our decisions have caused among family and friends.

Unfortunately, the open mind cannot be contained. Nonetheless, I say freedom begins about the time you cease to care what the naysayers think.

“It’s always easier not to think for oneself. Find a nice safe hierarchy and settle in. Don’t make changes, don’t risk disapproval, don’t upset your syndics. It’s always easiest to let yourself be governed…” – Ursula Le Guin

“The world will ask you who you are, and if you do not know, the world will tell you.” ~ Carl Jung

The first step to opting out is to expose yourself to alternative information. Even material that challenges your long-held beliefs and opinions. From experience, I know that instigates open-mindedness and helps to develop critical thinking skills. Here again, to do so is counter to human inclination. We tend to shut ourselves into our own little world that only incudes the people and things we feel comfortable with, don’t we? That’s called a “comfort zone”, and folks, there’s very little growth inside our comfort zones. What’s more, unless we make conscious effort otherwise, our comfort zones are susceptible to shrinkage, which with time, withers a person into complete closed-mindedness. I know a few people like that, and it’s not a preferable condition. Which bring to mind;

“Taking risks means that you are willing to take actions that are outside of your comfort zone. It means living life in a way that allows you, even challenges you, to expand yourself beyond who you know yourself to be.” ― Katherine Woodward Thomas

“It’s only after you’ve stepped outside your comfort zone that you begin to change, grow, and transform.” ― Roy T. Bennett

“Most everything that you want is just outside your comfort zone.” ― Jack Canfield

Unfortunately, many people have boxed themselves to where they have no idea where to how to find information, or have no desire to think differently than their small circle of peers. This results in a level of unprecedented compartmentalization and polarization that shuts down real debate and dialogue so necessary in a constitutional republic such as the U.S.A. Today I challenge you (I know I’m preaching to the choir here), if you haven’t yet, to expose yourself to ideas that counter some of your beliefs. Beliefs are no more than what we’ve been led to believe or have told ourselves is true. Conviction, on the other hand, are beliefs that have been exposed to the other side of the argument and withstood the test. We live in a time when many people have few convictions or passions, only a set of carefully instructed beliefs. Don’t let yourself be one of them. And that’s The View from the Country.

“If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.” Gordon A. Eadie