December 7, 2018

Head First and Fearless

Katherine Hepburn said, “If you follow all the rules, you’ll miss all the fun.”

Colouring inside the lines is one of the first things we learn as kids. The drawing of straight lines comes closely after, all in training for a life of walking in a straight line. In his famous TED Talk about the secret to happiness, Shaun Anchor shows the crippling effect of what engineering for average does to our talent and creativity.

Worth a watch here:

Yet to live a life outside the lines take courage. When the world is average when the norms of expectations and behaviour define the expectations of who you should be and how you should behave – it is only the brave individuals who are prepared to step outside the line of best fit and find the right fit for them.

We are inspired this week by a series of 9 documentaries made by Feros Care about 9 Byron Shire and Northern Rivers Senior Citizens. The series, titled ‘Fearless’ explore the bold and extraordinary lives of some of our local people who are having all the fun by ignoring the rules.

Do yourself a favour and watch this series:

It is what colouring outside of the lines for a lifetime looks like.

What you witness from these human libraries of our local area is a sense of wonder about how we ever came up with the idea of average – what defines the rules of average. Jeremy Bentham was a prominent lawyer and economist in the late 18th and early 19th Century whose theory of ‘utility’ did a lot to define our modern morality of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ behaviour.

Utilitarianism as a concept is exactly how it sounds. A grey uniform of practicality and homogeneity over individualism and expression. The essence of the principle of utility is this:

“It is the greatest good to the greatest number of people, which is the measure of right and wrong”

According to Benthem, right is the most diluted form of the individual. It has been held up in law and governance as a self-evident principle and yet I think it fails to take into account the complexity of human connections, I’m not sure that the freedom which allows people to live outside the grey is a threat to the greatest good. Perhaps, when you take a longitudinal approach, a freedom to be non-utilitarian seems like the greatest good for society – to be a community of good people rather than a good community of people.  

In summary, be fearless and live boldly because when we are all too average, we might find that we lose more to the grey than we might have gained from the rainbow. Speaking of rainbows, this week we also celebrate the one year anniversary of the ‘Yes’ vote to same-sex marriage, which is a nice note to finish on.