Reader Writes: Avoid the straightjacket of conformity

December 03, 2001

Conforming is a comfort zone beyond which the unimaginative soul dares not venture. It is also the cemetery of creativity and spontaneity.

It is a hotbed for the incubation of boredom and apathy.

No saying is truer than, "Variety is the spice of life."

Rigid rules are the straitjacket in which ingenuity strangles and dies.

Only those who break the rules achieve anything significant. It is upon their non-conformity that all progress is based.

The human mind detests a cloning of concepts or perceptions. It demands and thrives on variety.

The French have a saying which celebrates originality: "Viva la difference."

A dreary sameness promotes a total lack of interest. If we had to eat the same food day after day — if it always looked, smelled and tasted the same — we would soon lose our appetites, and then would have to be force-fed.


There is no virtue in everything being exactly alike. The virtue is in diversity, which whet the appetite and the mind.

With diversity, we can give creativity wings.

Defined by Webster, imagination is "The power or act of forming mental images of what's not actually present." It ranges from mild to wild — from creative to destructive — from sane to psychotic (hallucinatory, delusion.)

Genesis tells us that the world and its countless wonders were first imagined in the mind of God. Every leap in human progress — every invention, discovery or theory — all that we have, from great architecture to great books, from great art to scientific discoveries, etc., all sprang into being in the mind of man. Before they became realities, they were only images, which came into being in a non-conforming mind.

It's apparent, I believe, that all that was, or is, or will ever be was first an image in the mind of God or man — an image that did not conform to anything in our reality, or a synthesis, creating something new from that which already was.

When we are forced to conform to rigid rules, imagination cannot soar. The mind loses its wings.

I think that imagination (which should always be tempered with reason) may be the wind beneath the wings of creativity.

So with the French I shout, "Viva la difference!"

Of course there are rules we should not break, and rules we cannot break or amend except to the detriment of our bodies and souls.

One of these is the law of cause and consequence. "As you sow, so shall you reap" is an immutable law of life.

No spiritual law should ever be ignored if we want to live rich, full, creative lives.

There are also rules that separate the civilized person from the savage — among which is "Thou shalt not kill." To break these rules would create chaos and catastrophe.

The trick, then, is having the wisdom to know when to conform and when to dare to be different.

MERRY HARRIS is an El Centro resident.

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