What would we be without ego? … free?
But we need an ego.
We need a mind that can think and plan and use logic.
Children develop their sense of self from their 3rd till their 6th year. Correct and adapted feedback is very important. It’s obvious that children are all different and do not always react the same way to the same situation, praise or reprimand. With time, luck and a lot of love, most children become conformists before they leave kindergarten and start grammar school. The first two years of grammar school the teacher is the King/Queen and (s)he knows better than anyone on earth.
Before this age, when they were pre-conformist, children do not really belong to a group, and have no sense of putting themselves in someone else’s shoes. This lack of perspective can correctly be called a narcissistic phase. And those young children, who are so unfortunate not to have a lovingly balanced feedback from their parents, either become victimized with low self esteem and depression as a consequence in later life, or at the opposite part of the spectrum, those who get away with everything, never lose their sense of narcissism, never accept authority.
We have all been narcissists during that early time in our lives, but some have never entirely left this phase behind.
Later in school, in my country this starts from the age of 9 or 10, children start to question authority in a polite way (I’m not talking about puberty here – that’s a whole other story) and they start to ask the question ‘why’: Why has this decision been made, why is the law like this, why don’t we do something about the ecological problems of our days.
In some schools in some countries, this questioning is always rejected and seen as evil. In those schools conformists are shaped. They will do what society prescribes to keep society running the way it is.
India is to a high extend a conformist society. Most people UNFORTUNATELY do not question authority, and they often do not have the necessary education to think for themselves. This is changing however. The level of education of the teachers themselves is rising rapidly. Access to critical thinking however is still beyond reach for all those below the rising middle class.
So we have pre-conformists, conformists and post-conformists.
In fact, a post-conformist is a modernist. The modern world questions nature and god alike. Breakthrough Science is always post-conformist, although a lot of conformist scientists always do the same thing in the same way and sometimes expect different results (maybe that is insanity 🙂 ).
It’s obvious that most religions, and certainly all organised religions are conformist.
But in the same way, national socialism was also a conformist way to keep order. Just like soviet communism.
From the point of view of the conformist, pre- and post-conformists are all alike.
But there is a big difference.
The pre-conformist does not accept authority because he wants to do what he wants to do.
The post-conformist sometimes questions authority because (s)he found arguments and logic that question the way authority is (not) solving a problem.
Modern thinking is deterministic. Through the process of logic, cause and effect, a reconstruction is possible and/or a prediction is possible. If a hypothesis predicts one outcome in an experiment, and this way is found to be correct, then a theory can be formulated. (Even if that theory says that the outcome is impossible to predict (quantum physics)).
Beyond modernism, is post-modernism (which is equal to post-post-conformism).
Post-modernist thinking says everything is interpretation, every interpretation is good. This leads to pluralism, since all individuals perceive and interpret their way, coloured by their upbringing, their society and their culture. This is a beautiful way of thinking, but there is the danger that ‘your’ interpretation might be coloured by narcissist tendencies. If ‘your’ interpretation becomes the only thing that matters, a post-modern dictator is born.
Feedback remains important at all levels. Feedback makes us grow beyond ourselves. If one does not accept any authority any more higher or just next to ones own, we have a problem. If your boss is giving you every now and then an anonymous feedback moment, but classifies most feedback as nonsense or unimportant, then, who really is fooling him(her)self? From a safe distance, all dictators can be very interesting study-object.
To conclude – when, as a post-modernist, you move to a level were every interpretation of reality is seen as important, but were you also notice the difference in levels of interpretation, then you create a kind of hierarchy. Since a post-modernist has been a pre-conformist, a conformist, and a modernist before she became what she is, she should be able to talk to anyone on any rung or level of obscurity. Recognizing not in the least her own obscurity. If rewarded with the necessary feedback from peers and teachers, she could become a co-creator of a society were everyone would be represented.
… and the ego? and the freedom without it?
We need our ego to grow, and to question things, and to form many opinions and to finally put those opinions and the ego itself in perspective. Just an opinion, nothing more, just a remarkable tool, my ego, but nothing more … that is indeed freedom.