When I first came across the idea of authenticity it was in the context of states having freedom to decide their own form. Since then, it’s more often cropped up in fields of self-development and the like: that we should be free to become the person we wish to be. Not dissimilar, but not entirely the same either.
It sometimes now seems an overused word, with this sense of having become a mask for individualism: we can all do as we wish, no one can stop us, if it’s a problem it’s their problem etc. And, while I truly believe we all carry within us unique and important gifts to develop, work through and share with the world, mainly looking out for ourselves doesn’t seem quite right (Notes One).
It’s appealing philosophy, though, this idea that we should all unravel our perspective on life and express it unhindered. Letting the beauty of each individual inch out from underneath the blanket of collective thinking seems important – we’re much more than the roles we play and labels that might’ve been stuck to us (Notes Two).
Authenticity in the sense of everyone illuminating their own, overlapping section of reality seems beautiful. All doing our best to respond well to whatever touches our little patch of earth – all we’re born into, all we’ve met along the path, all that reaches the edges of our tiny island. If we’re all bringing things to light, resolving them, and not contributing to anything unhelpful then isn’t the world equally better off?
Don’t each of us experience part of our one, collective reality? We all have a story to tell and they all matter. Doesn’t what happens to one happen to all? Maybe authenticity’s each of us dealing skilfully with social manifestations as they appear in our presence? Us all being these pieces of the puzzle where darkness can be brought to light and things can start becoming better for everyone (Notes Three).
Because the idea of how best to “apply” the concept of freedom to the realities of life is fascinating. We might say individuals should be free to do as they please – that wonderful premise behind the West and these markets we so happily turn to – but it’s seeming quite problematic in practice (Notes Four).
If we all do as we please, where does that lead? Surely, we need some sense of commonality, mutuality, and holding ourselves back for the needs of others and the community. Otherwise, doesn’t this inevitably lead to conflict? If no one’s giving an inch and the other’s always to blame, society seems to risk gridlock.
Maybe collective needs must be as much on our minds as our own? Each having freedom to be plus an equal obligation to let others be. Everyone truly understanding the complex nature of society and where their decisions, words and actions are creating problems to be resolved. If writing our own story also means writing a coherent story for society, perhaps authenticity’s constructive for us all.
Notes and References:
Note 1: Right to look out for ourselves?
Note 1: Common sense as a rare & essential quality
Note 1: Tempting justifications of self
Note 1: What keeps us in check
Note 2: Complication of being human
Note 2: All we want to do passes through community
Note 2: People, roles, reading that rightly
Note 3: “The Measure of a Man”
Note 3: The power of understanding
Note 3: What it is to be human
Note 4: Obligations and contributions
Note 4: Any escape from cause & consequence?
Note 4: What we create by patterns of behaviour
Note 4: Social starting points for modern ways