Unless a person is a hermit or lives on a desert island, he is a member of a ‘society’. From the time that we are born into our own particular family society, we are indoctrinated in the rules by which our society operates. A monastery, a college, a military service, etc. will have their own variations regarding what is acceptable behavior. Each ‘society’ has its own laws, customs, mores, attitudes, and practices. We may not often realize that our family is also a society with its own rules for acceptable practice.
I remember a certain family when I was young who had a peculiar quirk. I was present when the mother said to her teenage son ...
“Why don’t you smoke?”
Her son responded;
“I don’t want to.”
The mother said;
“And you call yourself a man?”
All families have their own particular rules and customs. Thanksgiving Day is for watching football games. Christmas Eve is for going to church, etc. Some families practice dishonesty and manipulation of the rules in order to get what they want. It is customary in certain Latin American countries to pay graft to public servants in order to expedite common public services. The Italians have a name for it, ‘arrangiarsi’. This practice is especially true of certain Eastern tribal people where it is ‘proper’ and ‘acceptable’ to lie to, steal from, rape, enslave, or kill people of other tribes for your own personal benefit.
Children who grow up in these societies can’t help but be indoctrinated, can they? Now, let’s turn the spotlight on you as it relates to the conventions, beliefs and practices of your particular family and ethnic society. Did your father cheat on his taxes? Did your father cheat on your mother and she was supposed to ‘suffer in silence’? Did you mother do your school homework - because ‘you want to get a good grade, don’t you?’
People do not have to be ‘upright’ people in order to raise a family, do they? As we discuss in the chapter on ‘Surviving Marriage’ these ‘leftovers’ from your childhood can destroy your chances for a happy marriage and inhibit your ability to earn a good living.
How do we start this extremely important self-examination process? A good place to start is to examine your beliefs regarding other peoples, races, nationalities, and even - gender.
Do you believe that one group of people as defined by religion or race or other characteristics, are inferior to you or that they owe you something that you do not owe to them? Are corporations greedy or are laborers selfish? Do you believe that men are aggressors and women are targets? In Latin America, this is called ‘Machismo’ as women are subject to abuse by men without complaint or recourse. (The badge of a ‘macho’ man is his prominent mustache.)
Many years ago, I worked with a man who was a very ‘nice’, talented, and sensitive artist who came to the U. S. from another country and culture. He got a college degree and married a lady. When he took her home to meet his parents, he learned that she was of a certain different religious background and was not fit to be his wife.
I know another family whose mother was raised in a very strict home that required the girls to be subservient to the boys. She brought the same elements into her family as she raised her boys and girls. This caused rebellion and other stresses among her daughters and produced ‘unfortunate’ results in her sons. There is more on this subject in the sections on; ‘Surviving your children’, and ‘Surviving your parents’.
Perhaps the most dangerous and insidious is the popular society that expresses itself in our politics, colleges, and other social forums. This is the society that says; there are no absolute truths, one person’s truth is as correct as another person’s, teenagers are sex machines waiting for an opportunity for expression.
I read an account of a high school principal who said that they do not try to teach academic subjects to high school students because they are dominated by their sexuality. They just try to be friends to the students instead. Is this the proper use of our tax dollars that support public schools?
The proposition that recreational drugs are ‘cool’, and other such highly destructive attitudes and practices rob their victims of the resources needed for ‘success’. If you are in a college environment (the same is true of many grade schools), be very aware of the extreme damage done by recreational drugs, including alcohol and illicit sex. Be prepared to stand against these popular lies by strengthening your ability and resolve to not be victimized. The ‘wisdom of mankind’ stands firmly against these practices that brought on the fall of the Roman Empire.
Are you aware that Marx and Engels had first considered England as their target to establish communism? When they discovered the decadence of the Russian university students, (College students openly engaged in sex in public), they relocated their effort and overthrew Russia instead, as they already had their ‘troops’ in place. (Public sexual engagement is common in our culture. How far have we fallen?) Are you willing to practice such behavior when it can cost you your future success? Such practices ‘fly in the face’ of the ‘wisdom of mankind’ and have nearly always lead to disaster.
The first step of this self-examination process is to review the characteristics of your own particular society. This can require considerable work on your part, as you may have to question many of the ‘truths’ that have become part of the fabric of your life, especially regarding what constituted ‘good food’ that we discuss in another place in this book. Extend this process into the other relationships and practices in your life.
Your success as a person and as a professional depends upon normal and healthy relationships with every kind of person in your orbit. Every person is different and they will likely have different kinds of unrecognized impediments that stand in their way of their success.
This is all part of the general theme of this book, finding and dealing with the impediments in your life that keep you from ‘Surviving yourself”, (finding success).
If, after reading the above you wish to discredit me by offering such clichés as, “I am behind the times”, “Everybody does it”, “I am a hypocrite because you know that I did ‘it’ too”, you are showing the trap that you are in. Further, your response indicates your immaturity. (Read the section on ‘Surviving your immaturity.’)
Many who read this will cry out; “That’s religious teaching.” The fact is that many/most religions hold to these precepts, but ‘virtue’ is not exclusively a ‘religious’ principle. It is predominately a social principle that has served mankind well for thousands of years. “The wisdom of ‘mankind’ is greater than the wisdom of any man.” If you want to optimize your availability to achieve ‘success’, you will take advantage of every detail that will increase your acceptability to the most people. It is your relationships with people that will determine your success in life. Good behavior is not offensive to anyone. If you think that it is your opportunity and responsibility to reshape our culture, you are part of the problem.
Of course, you can cite many examples to ‘disprove’ my statements above. They are mostly sports figures and politicians whose success, (fame, glory and money) come from an unreliable and capricious source, public acclaim. Of the thousands of young people who want to be sports star, far fewer that one percent makes a showing, let alone become rich and famous.