Perspectives: Whose script is your life following?

OPINION – My son Forrest recently celebrated his 17th birthday. As his mother and I took him to dinner to celebrate, we had a heartfelt conversation about his future that has stuck with me for the past few days.

I’m not ashamed to admit that my son is someone I’ve come to admire greatly. He’s been blessed with a great mind, self-discipline, and the kind of focus that will allow him to go far in life. He intends to become a pharmacist just as my dad was.

As we talked of his future plans, we discussed the importance of not allowing others to write his life’s script for him. This seems like a no-brainer but most people are shocked when they finally realize the degree to which we allow this to happen in our own lives.

American society has become wrapped in an institutional cocoon that spells out the appropriate path we are expected to take.

Think about it: To become a respectable, successful member of society – at least according to conventional wisdom – there is a clear script in place that we must follow.

We are to go to school and earn good grades. Typically this will be in a government school where testing is emphasized.

We’re expected to get a university degree and even encouraged to take on debt, in the form of student loans, to do so. This is supposed to make us an attractive hire for the corporate world where we hope to secure a good job with great benefits.

Along the way, we are encouraged to provide outward proof of our success by purchasing clothing, shoes, cars, and household products with the proper respectable name brands. The entertainment with which we pass our nonworking hours is also a slickly packaged corporate product.

The script encourages us to put our children into daycare, to take out a home loan, and to save for our retirement in a 401(k).

It directs us to spend hours connecting with others via social media and instant messaging and to think about current events and issues in soundbites or clever memes.

We are supposed to believe in democracy and that voting is the highest form of good citizenship. We’re told to trust in our government and to be obedient to its instructions.

This is the institutional script by which a vast majority of Americans live their daily lives. People who follow it and don’t try to make waves will find that their conformity has earned them the approval of the corporate and political powers who promote the script.

It’s not an unpleasant life that has been scripted for us. But it’s not the same thing as truly living either.

Paul Rosenberg said:

Corporate life takes place vicariously: in advertisements, in movies, and in politics. Even its McChildren are prevented from interaction with the real world — rushed from one institution to another, then safely back home: numbered, evaluated, and surveilled the whole time.

The streets, offices, and boardrooms of the mega-corp world are rich and shiny, but they are swept clean of real life. They are places where souls go to (wither) and die — albeit slowly and with continuous validation.

A person who chooses to depart from this script will almost certainly experience serious push-back. Just ask any parent who chooses to exercise his or her prerogative to educate their child at home. Or consider the couple that decides to have a home birth or the family that gets rid of their television.

By going off-script, they often find that they’re viewed with suspicion or resentment and strongly urged to get back on the same page with everyone else.

But they are not the ones who are selling themselves short.

The sad truth is that the majority of American society today have been trained to doubt themselves and their own judgment. They’ve been taught to seek safety in the crowd rather than standing up and asserting themselves and trusting that they are fully capable of choosing their own path to fulfillment.

Following the herd may be more comfortable in the short term but also carries deeper regret upon reaching the end of one’s life and realizing the opportunities that were lost while trying to fit in.

To this end, my wife and I are encouraging our children to think outside of the corporate cocoon when it comes to setting and going after their life goals.

We teach them that the highest purpose of their lives has little to do with getting a job, making lots of money, and buying as much material wealth as they possibly can.

None of these things is evil in itself. But there are captives to liberate, beauty to create, sick people to heal, truth to proclaim, and hungry to be fed.

Accomplishing these things requires writing your own script.

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Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and opinion writer in Southern Utah. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

 

Email: bryanh@stgnews.com

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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24 Comments

  • Koolaid November 24, 2014 at 10:11 am

    At what age does the church brainwashing begin?

    • Zonkerb November 24, 2014 at 2:53 pm

      The brainwashing starts when the 13 year old mother is pregnant

    • mesaman November 24, 2014 at 5:46 pm

      Glad to see you’re working out your hangups.

    • Zonkerb November 24, 2014 at 11:48 pm

      Mesaman is looking for a friend. LOL

    • Zonkerb November 24, 2014 at 11:53 pm

      Hey mesaman needs a fundraiser.!

  • Joanna November 24, 2014 at 10:23 am

    “I’m not ashamed to admit that my son is someone I’ve come to admire greatly.” Why on earth would someone be ashamed to “admit” that about their own child?? Could you imagine someone saying “I’m a little ashamed to admit it, but I actually ADMIRE my child.” I don’t know what they’re filling this poor kid’s head with, but my advice to him would be to “Run, Forrest, run.”

    • Dave Rabbitt November 24, 2014 at 10:55 am

      What he may mean by that statement, is that a child usually admires his/her parents, not the other way around. People are more apt to say that they are PROUD of their children, which leads others to believe that the child’s beliefs or accomplishments are a direct reflection of what was TAUGHT to them, by their parents. But oftentimes our own children teach US a thing or two about life and change our views of it. Your negativity on this article (in my opinion) leads me to believe that you are somewhat narrow-minded.

    • Herd November 24, 2014 at 3:45 pm

      The attitude I find with parents is one of my kid rules and everybody bow down and worship my kid. Mommas act like rock band groupies around them and daddies bully anyone who doesn’t worship his brats.

  • Roy J November 24, 2014 at 10:38 am

    This article doesn’t make any sense. The ‘vast majority’ of Americans do not work in corporate America as successful managers, or live in shiny glass houses, etc, etc. It isn’t possible, logically, financially, theoretically or any other wise. The vast majority of Americans turn tires during the day before going to their second job as a nightwatchman at a for-profit ‘troubled’ teen reformatory, then change roles with their significant other who is equally tired of taking care of their own children and who is going out the door to their low paying cashier job at the gas station, or McDonald’s. That’s the majority of us, in a St George nutshell.

  • beacon November 24, 2014 at 11:15 am

    My experience is that there are good people in all walks of life. Although organizations may shape – or try to shape – individuals to a certain extent, there are those people who are strong and don’t allow that to happen. They are often chastised for that but perhaps become stronger for it. As a person who worked in a large organization, I saw many who became “toadies” (yes men and women) but others who challenged organizational decisions and worked for change. When they were smart and strong, they often achieved much within that organization.

    • Whites Only November 24, 2014 at 12:46 pm

      In southern Utah, that comment about good people in all walks of life seems to apply to whites only. Hispanics are called illegals and drug criminals. blacks are called unprintable names. Of course, if your political, religious or personal belief doesn’t fit in the tight boundaries of what’s acceptable, then you too are viewed as a deviant or criminal. Southern Utah is a very closed-minded place where people do not believe in equality and fairness.

      • PROTECT THE SHEEP November 24, 2014 at 1:30 pm

        If you don’t like it here in Mayberry pack up your things and leave!

      • ladybugavenger November 24, 2014 at 2:10 pm

        Whites only, my husband is native american. When filling out paperwork and they ask for race….there is no Native American box- ever! Native Americans get left out of everything. They list races the blacks, the whites, the Asians, Alaskin natives, the mexicans but no one ever lists the Native Americans. This is not a Utah thing this is an America thing. America does not believe in equality and fairness for all. Native Americans, the true minorities!!!

      • Zonkerb November 24, 2014 at 2:52 pm

        Well by all means leave. LOL… Nobody says you have to stay here… Whaaaaaaaa Whaaaaaaaa Whaaaaaaaa

  • Visiting Anthropologist November 24, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    One of the most hypocritical pieces of writing I’ve seen in a long time in the quintessential conforming place where going “off-script” (the local script that is) will get you shunned, chastised and otherwise left in left field. Your view of the world, Mr. Hyde seems badly skewed. And for heaven’s sake, stop thinking that southern Utah is the only place where people have home births and do home schooling. I come from a state where both are done all the time and nobody chastises anyone. Of course, in other place, people’s choices are not linked to a dominant religion. They’re true choices.

  • the creature November 24, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    Loved this article man, keep them coming

  • Karen November 24, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    Sure glad I don’t live in the writer’s neighborhood. I don’t know anyone who feels the way he does except the ones who watch Fox News and believe everything they are told there.

    • Zonkerb November 24, 2014 at 11:51 pm

      The writer had people like mesaman to drink his Kool aid

  • PROTECT THE SHEEP November 24, 2014 at 11:25 pm

    whats the best advice to give a black man living in st george???

    • Betty November 25, 2014 at 8:21 am

      Same as any color man: Be a man, be the leader of your home. Whether you are a CEO or a burger flipper, do your job and do it well and then leave it when you clock out everyday. Have your priorities in order. Love God and your family. Make sure you marry the right person, leave the D-word out of the arguments (or someone else will raise your children). And call your mother regularly.
      Edited as requested. 🙂

    • Zonkerb November 25, 2014 at 9:19 am

      Uh stay out of the alligator pits.?

    • Joanna November 25, 2014 at 11:21 am

      If you want to go to Costco on a Saturday, get there early. The parking lot fills up fast.

  • Dana November 25, 2014 at 5:32 am

    “…we discussed the importance of not allowing others to write his life’s script for him. ”
    I call B.S. What will be different for your son? Is he leaving the cult?

    • Koolaid November 26, 2014 at 4:45 pm

      Threaten them if they dare talk about leaving the culthood! Tell them how they will be exiled from family and friends. Unwelcome.

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