“The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists, who are dedicated to justice, peace, and brotherhood. The trailblazers in human, academic, scientific, and religious freedom have always been nonconformists. In any cause that concerns the progress of mankind, put your faith in the nonconformist!” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King
Over 20 years ago, as an “art in a cart” lesson volunteer, I tried to teach first-graders to draw pink elephants, but failed. By first grade, I realized these children couldn’t think beyond gray elephants and resisted coloring them in any other hue.
Don’t get me wrong, gray elephants have merit, but with an abundant palette, why not risk using an “unconventional” color?
As a writer and appreciator of art and culture, I have a penchant for asking the “Whys.” As a matter of fact, I was expelled for a day from sixth grade for “asking too many questions.”
Most people, myself included, are conformists who work in the framework of norms and respective boundaries. As I’ve grown older, I aim to find the courage to target the time when it is necessary to speak out, not freak out and act out disrespectfully and become the disciplined non-conformist.
Rep. John Robert Lewis, a Georgia Democrat and civil rights leader, who died last week is a prime example of a disciplined non-conformist. May he rest in peace and may we live up to his legacy.
My daughter illustrated another perfect example of a disciplined nonconformist. She was traveling in the Pennsylvania back roads and she spotted a sole white male holding a “Back Lives Matter” sign. He soldiered alone in his mission and, perhaps, in this particular area, risked his life doing so.
I put my faith in people with guts. People who are typically lone, unique voices.
“This command not to conform comes not only from Paul but also from our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, the world’s most dedicated nonconformist, whose ethical nonconformity still challenges the conscience of mankind.
Everywhere and at all times, the love ethic of Jesus is a radiant light revealing the ugliness of our stale conformity.
In spite of this imperative demand to live differently, we have cultivated a mass mind and have moved from the extreme of rugged individualism to the even greater extreme of rugged collectivism. We are not makers of history; we are made by history.” ~
~ Excerpt from Rev. Dr. King from one of his sermons preached in November 1954 at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.
Here is another one of my favorite quotes from that sermon: “Or to change the figure, most people, and Christians in particular, are thermometers that record or register the temperature of majority opinion, not thermostats that transform and regulate the temperature of society.”
Everyday for nearly 36 years, I’ve been grateful to consistently aim to live my life on a spiritual plane. I work very actively for this ambition through tools I’ve learned in the 12-Step Community. Basically, the first nine steps are known are ego-deflation steps. After we work the first nine and begin to shed our egos, life in the spirit begins (Steps 10, 11 and 12).
Here’s the benefit of living life in the spirit. You don’t HAVE to look like a paper doll in the chain. You don’t have to buy anyone’s faulty bag of judgmental goods. You have your own timeline. And you get to be straight, gay, trans, polka-dotted, black, white or absolutely no gender, race or religion, if it feels as natural as the finger pads on your hands feel. You are free to be who YOU are because you are free from the bondage of self (and the bondage of society). You are free from the Ego. In other words, YOU are free to draw pink elephants and like them even when the herd poo-poos them.
Better yet, toss a few purple elephants into the mix and as you are mocked and feel mortified, realize you are on the trailblazing journey of setting the world on fire, and that’s what having faith is all about.
A disciplined non-conformist. How I love the sound of that. What an inspirational piece this is. Bravo.
My thoughts align with yours. You are a very gifted writer! I’m glad I found you. 💚
You are also a gifted writer! What a wonderful twist of faith that I found you!
Aww thank you so much!
I love this post: eloquent and inspirational; I celebrate with you rugged individualism NOT herd mentality which frankly I find frightening, Hail to pink elephants 🙂
Yes, hail, John! Hail!
Great inspiration well written post!