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OK not to be OK?

How normal are we? A question we often ask about ourselves or the rest. Other people's sanity may influence our own well being. Again, isolated ordinary individuals leading crazy lifestyles may or may not have an effect on us. Entire societies acting the same way, whether it's considered normal or not, do leave their mark upon their individuals.

Society becomes the patient of Erich Fromm, psychoanalysis' follower, in his book entitled “The Sane Society”. Though declared by now unfashionable (as it was first published in the '50s), the book questions things, facts that continue nowadays to seem right, despite obvious proofs of malignancy: capitalism is one of them. Conformity is another. We learn to interrogate and analyze not only what is plainly evil in this world, but also what looks like least of the worst, best attainable by imperfect humanity. We find out about flourishing economies coexisting with unemployment, about lack of resources when it comes to finance health research, but abundance of funds when sponsoring army development, we think of freedom understood as indifference and conformity (as long as we shop, we don't need to rebel against anything…) and we often mistaken unanimity of opinions with the right way (”the fact that millions of people share the same vices, that does not transform them into virtues”). Mental healthiness depends on our definition of what man's nature is like. Not surprisingly, each civilization, culture, epoch describe differently (at some point) the man. What is normal today might have been quite insane centuries or even decades ago.

Best and funniest example was to mention the novel of H.G. Wells – “Country of Blinds”, where as expected, eyes are considered “organs irritating the brain constantly”, anomalies which can be “fixed”, thanks to science and technology, by being taken out through simple operation, performed by blind doctors.

Being or doing something slightly different in an uniform society or group, causes ostracism and finger pointing (happens in Third worlds as well as in “First” ones!). We might “thank” for this, the constant belief of people that, if doing everything the same as our ancestors (tradition) or neighbors or the majority, we're safe and sound, following the natural, right way. Something is good or valuable only if accepted and used by entire communities. Then, we wonder about disappearance of our own self, about loneliness (is it good or bad?), about being insignificant “specs of dust” marching in “herd” towards the same fate.

If whole societies are diagnosed as being so “sick”, despite of united efforts to offer best model of lifestyles, will it be so impossible or wrong trying to figure out individually and independently of authorities (such as religion, bureaucracy or state – mentioned and criticized also by Fromm) how to live peacefully and creatively?

Is it OK then, not to be OK?

Copyright © Katiusha Cuculescu, 2005