Amidst the constant barrage of being asked what my political party is, whether I’m liberal or conservative, or a member of The Satanic Temple due to sharing a lot of information regarding them, I decided to make a blog and vlog clarifying my position when it comes to being part of the community.
As oxy moronic as it sounds, I am an extroverted loner. I enjoy spending time with people and taking part in certain activities, but I don’t like being a member of grous. Now, many will say that by putting the label of ‘Satanist’ on myself, I’ve become part of that group of people who are also Satanists. I suppose that is true, but is that conformity?
I’m also white (obviously lol) so that makes me part of that group of people who are also white, but does that make me associated with them? believe in the same things? have the same goals? Absolutely not. There is a difference between putting a descriptor on yourself and being part of the herd.
That’s number 1. The second thing, within each group, there are subgroups, and then more subgroups under those. Here, I’ve made a crappy chart:
The broad group is Satanists, within which we have Atheistic and Theistic. Under Atheistic, we have Church of Satan and The Satanic Temple. If we go further under TST, we have multiple chapters and then further in we have ‘Friends of TST’ which are unofficial affiliates. And there are more bubbles that I’ve neglected to put on the chart; this is just to give you an idea of what I mean.
The point is that even if a person is in one group, doesn’t mean they have anything to do with any of the other groups that could be loosely associated with them. Therefore, being part of a group does not necessarily mean you go along with anyone else who is in it as well.
The last thing is the most important.
Being part of a herd means that a person divorces their individuality in honor of withholding the ideals of those around them. For instance, imagine that you’re part of Organization A. Whether you’re a member because you were born into it or chose to join is irrelevant. You go along with OA because you believe in the same things that they do.
One day, you begin to notice other members doing some shady stuff. Perhaps OA itself is taking part in activities that you’re not a hundred percent sure about. However, you continue to do your duty, assuring yourself that OA must be in the right since that is your group, who you’ve been dedicated too.
That would make you a conformist.
An individualist would take this same scenario and voice their concerns, try to understand, and if things still seemed off, they’d leave. Being part of a group to work towards a common goal or simply to have a sense of family does not a sheep make. It is when you put the ideals of that group over your own thoughts, feelings, and above critical thinking that you become mindless.
A flock is going to stay a flock, ignoring the opinions or beliefs of others. An individual within a community is going to, for a moment when different views are presented, ignore what they know to be true and consider if perhaps it wasn’t, and that this outsider is correct. That’s not to say this person won’t ultimately return to their original line of thinking, but an individual will take these steps; a conformist will not.
Individual thought isn’t solely the ability to critically think, but the ability to act. If you acknowledge your disagreement with your group and yet refuse to act in your own favor, this is also conforming. You may be against what is going on, but you still do it anyway.
Personally, I refrain from membership in any group or organization. I enjoy helping others and spending time in the community, but I do not actively become part. I’m the type of person who wants to be able to do everything completely on their own terms. So to me, being part of the community is tedious work with unnecessary obligations, expectations, drama, and rules (whether spoken or unspoken).
I don’t think being a attached would make me less of an individual; I just gain no pleasure in it. Declining to be part also means I accept that I have no voice amongst these people. I may attend events or help with particular causes I believe in, but I have no right to speak on their governing.
This is something I’m perfectly okay with. I don’t feel the need to have my name connected to any organization’s progress or what they promote. Even so, if you happen to have this desire, it doesn’t make you any less of an individual to work alongside communities. Do what thou wilt.
~Sahreth ‘Baphy’ Bowden