Core Decorum: Here and there

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Illustration courtesy of Cecilia Lang

Obsession with the elsewhere is deeply pervasive in the modern psyche. It is unsurprising. Marketing leads us to believe that something is always missing, that the newest shiny toy will fulfill the whole in your closet, pantry or heart. 

Social interaction is plagued with the question “what is everyone else doing?” We want to be seen at the biggest party, to be friends with the in crowd, to be tagged in the most-liked post. 

Even if we subliminally realize that we don’t genuinely like or enjoy the newest fashion, the hippest gathering or the most popular people, we often force ourselves to conform anyways. The pressure to be perceived as someone who is “there” is tremendous. 

This pressure feeds into a deep distraction and restless search for the satisfaction of newness and thereness, a search which is perennially blind, for trends become an ocean of chance, flowing according to no rhyme or reason. 

When we become obsessed with thereness, we are swept up into a collective groupthink which often hardly thinks at all. Often the preference for a certain activity or way of dress begins as a small movement which becomes a torrent, without clear value. 

Undoubtedly, this surrender to the tides of thereness is destructive of individuality and the call to live according to one’s distinctively rational nature. Free will is not only an observation of what is possible in man, but also involves a duty.

Man must deliberate for himself according to what he has determined to be good, not according to what the collective culture dictates is fresh and fun. 

To encourage individual judgment of every trend and movement is not to discount anything on account of its being “popular.” Seclusion from culture and denouncement of what all “the world” parades and offers is not the answer to obsession with the elsewhere. 

Rather, our duty as rational free agents is to test everything, cling to what is worthy and be confident in our choice to occupy the here and now. 

Sometimes this process will land you in relationships and at events which may be deemed as “popular” or that at the moment are the “there” for others. But become comfortable with resisting the there, for your “here” ought not always coincide with the arbitrary designation of “there.” 

Rest in what you have chosen and the tasks which you find honorable, and delight in the persons you find wonderful and full of goodness. 

Because in the end, “there” will shift seismically, but your “here,” with proper discernment, will be built on sturdy ground.

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