Defiant Honesty: Why It’s Bad to Be Good.
Rebellion is taking a new form.
The 60’s had the sexual revolution, recreational drug use and war protests. The 70’s had punk rock and strikes. The 80’s and 90’s saw the growth of hip hop culture. But what have we got today?
For better or worse (I’m inclined to think the latter), capitalism and consumerism are now the dominant socioeconomic forces in the world. Although begrudgingly accepted rather than loved, their legitimacy and authority remain unquestioned. Almost all countries are united in their blind pursuit of economic growth, and this filters down into populations obsessed with gaining, and terrified of losing, money.
As a result of this material preoccupation, ethics, morals and conscience have been thrown out the window. Profit comes first. This is the system’s mantra, and we see it reflected in our companies, governments and even healthcare.
This lack of scruples from our major institutions sets a precedent for us all to follow in our occupational and lifestyle choices. We won’t think twice about working for unethical companies, buying unethical products or casually exaggerating our own status and achievements to impress others.
We live in a world of bullshit. Everyone responds that they’re fine or great when greeted, yet we know we’re not (suicide is the biggest killer of men between the ages of 18 and 34 in the UK), advertising tricks us into believing that big corporations genuinely care, and our politicians are more concerned with how the next headline reads than doing what’s right.
In such a topsy-turvy world, where it’s less a case of good vs. bad but evil vs. even more evil, whom do we turn to when looking for those prepared to challenge the establishment?
Don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s the drug-fueled, tattoo-covered rock or rap star. Their form of rebellion plays into the system’s hands, promoting a shallow hedonistic lifestyle that primes younger generations for a lifetime of material pursuit.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s the armed revolutionary. Their form of rebellion is now lethal in a world where technology can destroy millions of people at the press of a button.
Instead, we need to think out of the box. We need to look in a place that has never before been associated with rebellion — the good guys (and girls).
Before we go any further, there’s something I have to make perfectly clear: when I say good guys, I don’t mean saps. Think William Wallace in Braveheart, think Rubin Carter in The Hurricane, think Erin Brockovich in… you get the picture. Basically, tough sons of bitches with an impeccable moral code, standing up for what’s right.
Remember, the game is all twisted. You don’t rebel by challenging anymore, you rebel by being yourself. In a system where we’re encouraged to mute our opinions and keep our true feelings under wraps, this is the ultimate act of defiance.
Honesty, integrity and caring about other people — traits typically associated with goody-goodies — are now badass because the system teaches us to always think of ourselves, manipulate people for our own advance, and put considerations of finance above all else.
Defiant honesty stretches beyond how you treat others though. More than anything, it’s about being true to yourself. It’s about having the strength to admit you’re not satisfied spending 40 plus years of your life working 40 to 50 hours a week in a job that gives you nothing greater than financial reward. It’s about being bold enough to say that drinking yourself into oblivion at the weekend is not your idea of fun.
It’s about being open enough to admit your flaws and weaknesses, and resisting the urge to put on a front in an attempt to impress others.
In short, defiant honesty is about rejecting societal norms if they don’t work for you. This kind of honesty undermines the system. Without violence or struggle, we just turn our backs on what we don’t truly believe in. And the world would change.
Imagine what would happen if we only chose careers we were passionate about. Imagine who you would let into your life if you were honest about the way you feel and willing to be open about your uncertainties. Without seeking to be, these changes would be revolutionary.
Remember, the system is so corrupt that it can’t function when confronted with truth. It needs us to perpetuate and participate in its lie for it to have any legitimacy. Stop doing that, by being truthful to yourself, and its illusion of power over our lives will soon disappear.
How can defiant honesty work for you?
Nice theory, I hear you saying, but how does this work in the real world?
I can’t promise you that practicing defiant honesty is going to be easy, or that it’s going to make you rich. However, you will be noticed. In fact, you’ll stand out like a beacon of light in a world of self-serving clones.
This has many advantages:
* A loyal client base that loves you for always putting service and their well-being above profits.
* The respect and trust of other people.
* A chance to be on the cutting edge of innovation as your refusal to conform grants you access to avenues other people just won’t explore.
And then there are the benefits to your soul:
* The peace of mind gained by living life with a clear conscience.
* The toughness forged from resisting the near insurmountable pull of peer group pressure.
* Being loved by others because you’re always there for them regardless of work commitments or financial issues.
I hope I’ve convinced you with this argument. You don’t need to swear, smoke or stick your middle finger up to be a rebel anymore. It’s something accessible to all of us who are brave enough to follow the values of honesty, integrity and caring about other people.
Joe Barnes writes to help you succeed on your own terms. Get his free eBook on breaking free from The System and living the life you want on his website Screw the System. He also works as a hypnotherapist and tennis coach, and is author of the critically acclaimed book Escape the System: The ultimate guide to a life of freedom and greatness.