THE POWER OF PUBLIC OPINION OVER US.
The fear of public opinion, what others think about us is something very real to everyone living in our modern age. The fact that we all grow up in a community, we all live in a neighborhood and interact in the society at large, puts some pressure on all of us to some extent. We feel the burden to please others on our shoulders. We are mindful of what others think about us.
“To change the world, one has to ignore its residents.” ― Mokokoma Mokhonoana.
Moreover, we all have an ego. Our ego desires that we be accepted. Our self-esteem needs to be reassured of public acceptance. We all one way or another aspire to create a public image of ourselves. Feelings of shame, guilt and outcast are universal. We do everything possible to run away from them as much as possible. We don’t like to be ashamed. We would rather conform than be shamed.
As a result, we are always on our guards, trying to be on the lookout for any dent on our carefully molded image. Even though we are all obviously imperfect as the case may be, yet we strive to carefully shield it just to avoid the shame. Shaming is one of the most detrimental forms of punishment. Everybody has an inbuilt instinct to run away from shame. This has contributed in no small manner to the power of public opinion over us.
Since shame comes mainly from the people we know or interact with, it therefore leads to a kind of phobia. We automatically run away from it, because we don’t want to face the shame. Especially from the community where we live. The fear of public opinion is especially fueled by the realization that I am still coming back home. I have got to come back to this same community. That realization that I still need to meet this people again, I need to live among them, work among them and interact with them, intensifies the fear of public opinion.
“Public opinion is a permeating influence, and it exacts obedience to itself; it requires us to drink other men’s thoughts, to speak other men’s words, to follow other men’s habits.” – Walter Bagehot
Again, this concretely has to do with the fear of being shamed. We are most likely less concerned in a situation where we would not need to come back to a given community, city or society. People who realize that they would not be apprehended by certain group of people could feel freer than those who know for sure that they are going to be recognized the next day by their neighbors.
Apart from shame, another factor that is responsible for the fear of public opinion is the feeling of guilt. This is another human feeling that is extremely destructive. Guilt by itself could be dangerous when an individual puts that feeling upon himself without the accusation of others. Guilt can eat up an individual like cancer…
To be continued tomorrow with the following points:
- Why most people are panicky before the power of public opinion
- The prey of your fundamental human needs.
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, CHURCH AND NATION