It’s important to be a maverick, isn’t it? I always like to think of myself as a bit of a maverick, a bit of a rebel. I’m not saying that I am, mind you – I’m just saying that I like to think of myself that way. It helps me to respect myself a little a lot more than I would otherwise. It makes life easier if you can respect yourself, needless to say. If you can’t respect yourself then nothing is very much fun, is it? Not in my experience anyway. Yes, it’s very hard when you can’t respect yourself. That’s a hard old station, that’s a real tough road to walk down. People can smell it off you like BO and when they do they don’t want to have anything to do with you. They certainly don’t want to hang around with you and be your buddies, that’s for sure! No sir they don’t – folk have got some kind of infallible radar for that kind of thing, in my experience. What happens is that people congregate around those who do have a good opinion of themselves because they reckon – obviously enough – that if someone respects themselves then clearly there must be something there worth respecting. There’s no smoke without fire, as they say. See if you can spot the fallacy there, right? That’s life I guess and there’s no sense in wasting time thinking about it too much. You’ll only grow bitter that way and no one wants that. When a person grows bitter then they’re no good to themselves or to anyone else, as we all know. It’s most unfortunate, most unfortunate indeed. It’s so very easy to happen too – one minute you’re fine and dandy, the next you’re all sour and resentful, a misery both to yourself and anyone else who might be unfortunate enough to meet you! Dear me yes – isn’t that the way? Isn’t that always the way? It’s important not to dwell overmuch on the faults and failings of our fellow human beings therefore, as numerous as those faults and failings might be. And they are numerous – let us be under no illusions on that score. Chief amongst these faults – or so it seems to me – is the fault of unquestioning conformity to whatever authority structures that might be might happen to be around. We are in such a hurry to fit into the local power structure that it’s positively dizzying. We conform so quickly that we don’t even notice ourselves doing it. It’s as if there is some kind of instinctive radar operating there: spot where the power is in any given situation and then align yourself with it. Align yourself with it so fast that it seems as if you were always part of it, so it seems as if there was never any question of you not being part of it. That’s a pretty smart trick, I must admit. It’s a smart trick and it generally works a treat. The only possible drawback is of course that there is zero integrity involved in this process but I suppose we can ignore that. We all do ignore it anyway. One way in which this works has to do with ideas that have been propagated – the crucial point here being that it doesn’t matter what the idea actually is (why would that matter after all?) but who it is that the ideas are coming from. If the idea in question is coming from someone in a position of relative power or authority then we will fawn over it, we will fall over ourselves in our hurry to approve of it and say how great it is. If on the other hand it’s coming from someone who isn’t in such a position of authority, someone who isn’t part of the power structure, then no matter what the idea is it will be completely ignored – not only this but you will also be made to feel, in subtle ways, that you are a complete fool to open your mouth. If you persist with your idea then you will be ostracised by everyone. It’s as if they had telepathy, it’s as if they are all of one mind and this ‘one mind’ suddenly marks you out as being heinously guilty of some deeply unsavoury crime; everyone knows about it and no one wants to be associated with you anymore in case that taint should rub off on them. Distance keeps them clear of the taint, you see. Distance preserves them, distance makes sure that they are still going to be considered as part of the power structure. That’s the perennial insecurity of course – that we might be spotted as not playing the game – even though no one will admit in a million years that it is a game or that anyone is playing it. I’ve noticed that happening a lot at work. Actually I notice it happening all the time at work. What else is there in a system other than conformity, after all? I’m not like that however. I don’t play that game. That’s what I keep on telling myself, anyway…








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