Dissent, divergence, dissonance. All common words used to describe something that does not align with the current wisdom, the so called status quo. As we all know, looking back at history, the major changemakers that we revere so much were in a way or other peculiarly extravagant compared to their contemporary establishment. But even with this historical recognition, convergence is still portrayed as the modern ideal of life in all sectors of society, from academia to the military. Free and collateral thought is suppressed and accused of a myriad of epithets, ranging from insanity, immorality, to plain bad taste.
This can be understood as well as expected in conservative niches of society, but it is harmful and dangerous – considering the perspective of change – when it represents the major force of high-level academic institutions or even political leadership. Change is what we desire in order to shatter the diverse forms of oppression so to pursue the achievement of the ideals immortalized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. What we see today – and throughout history, one might say – is a witch hunt for the agents of change, the intellectuals and activists that possess divergent behavior and thoughts.
If we are not ready to embrace the dissident and acknowledge this rather unorthodox person as the voice, hands and spirit of change, we are dooming humanity to sameness. So the challenge is, as always, a question: are we prepared to leave our comfort zone as well as our preconceptions in order to think outside of the box – or at least accept those who do it – for the sake of changing our inner and outer world?
AMSC – 11/06/2009