What’s yours is yours and what’s mine is mine and there’s nowhere in-between. Imagine for a second, I don’t have to this has happened to me multiple times, you’re having a conversation with someone you’ve just met. In the course of that conversation you say something they find offensive. You are profane, you curse, you blaspheme or you just use a word or phrase they don’t like. After which they immediately ask you or more directly tell you that you they would prefer you don’t say that again or even more directly tell you not to say that again. Maybe it goes even further and they threaten to report you to your boss or even HR. What they have done is far worse than what you have, not that you’ve necessarily done anything wrong. Essentially what has happened is this, the person you were talking to become upset or discomforted by what was a combination of sound and hot air. In return they tried to enforce their will upon you.
In the whole span of human history, some 12,000 plus recorded years, countless ideas, philosophies and trains of thought have been developed, explored and implemented on every level of society. This of course doesn’t make them true, just or even correct. It just means that an individual convinced a majority to impose it on the minority as well. Just because we want something to be true or we feel deeply that its right, doesn’t mean everyone shares our views and that their wrong or flawed if they don’t. The problem isn’t necessarily the truth of the belief but the need of others to make everyone believe or obey what they believe. In that sense life gets boiled down to a game of dodge ball. It’s great to have the ball but you never want to get hit.
I enjoy vegetables about as much as the next person. That being said, I will never pick broccoli over steak au poivre. While I agree with PETA that animals should be treated ethically, I don’t think it’s unethical to eat a burger or fried chicken as often as I want. As much as Islam and Mormonism abhors alcohol, I have to admit I enjoy a good glass of single malt scotch on the regular. While Sikhs believe that growing out your hair and beard brings you closer to God, I enjoy a haircut and a close shave often. What should be made of all of these beliefs? Should I be forced to give up bacon for tree bark? Should bars and barbershops be closed so that we can be closer to our Gods and not defile our bodies with intoxicants? Or can we simply agree that there are countless beliefs across this fragile planet we share and we are all entitled to our beliefs without forcing them on everyone else? How truly controversial would it be to judge not and demand not, less we should have to suffer both.
When you encounter these situations you can make multiple choice. You can be stoic like Epictetus teaches and chose to be indifferent to their actions as you choose to live your life accordingly. You can choose the route of Ayn Rand and practice Objectivism and decide that to be selfish is the highest moral virtue or maybe you can simple give into their demands so as to avoid the discomfort of conflict all together You must always be aware that whoever they are, they are all trying to steal or alter the fabric of who and what you are if they expect you to change for the sake of their comfort. At the end of the day that is all for you to determine. From your haircut to your favorite band, the car you drive and the people you choose to spend your time with. The very definition of your being and the purpose of your existence is yours alone. No one, absolutely no one, has the right to tell you how to be. Your parents, close friends, local priest or a stranger you meet at a bar has no right to have a say in who you choose to be. In attempting doing so they are only imposing their will on you and denying you the one thing the universe guarantees you. The right to be.
The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities. “Ayn Rand