|Cecil Stoughton, White House|
Those were words uttered by the late President John F. Kennedy. No one can know, if JFK had lived and served two terms as President of the United States, if he might have been one of our greatest presidents. Lee Harvey Oswald's (or whoever's) bullet cut short what might have been a brilliant and courageous leader.
Of course, Kennedy said a lot of often quoted things during his three years in office. This quote just seemed to hit home with me. These words are powerful for anyone who really seeks personal freedom and the opportunity to grow to their greatest potential.
Think about it. How many great leaders, successful icons of industry, military officers (and enlisted men and women) musicians, artists, actors, educators, doctors, etc. can you name who were or are conformists? Indeed, non-conformists all need to know where the boundaries are, but they also know where they can either expand the boundaries or break through them.
All societies are mainly comprised of conformists. Conformists are people who don't rock the boat or challenge the status quo. They are the people who make sure the basic principles of civilization and societies continue generation after generation and century after century. They are the bedrock or foundation that provide stability.
The non-conformists are the movers and shakers, the iconoclasts, the risk takers, the visionaries. Conformity is boring to these people. They are always looking outside the box. They strive for and thrive on the quest for the freedom to express themselves in their own way. They often upset the apple cart and create controversy and even conflict, because they are driven to create new trails and roads. They require freedom to take risks and explore new ideas and frontiers. They are the catalyst for change and advances in all facets of society.
Their, and our, challenge, if we seek to live free in a world that is becoming increasingly less free, is to dare to extend and, when possible, break through the boundaries dictated and established by government, industry, education and society, in general. It can be as sophisticated as creating new ideas in public transportation like Uber or travel housing like Air BnB. Or, it can be as simple as creating mobile lifestyles or creating tiny houses that don't require a lot of land or public services.
Ultimately, whether one generates a lot of money or inspires others to live frugally and on minimal financial resources, there is a bottom line. That bottom line is to be physically, societally, financially, governmentally, psychologically and spiritually free to enjoy our gift of life, however we feel best doing so. It also requires that we don't infringe on anyone else's rights to live as they choose, whether in societal conformity or non-conformity. And, this personal freedom also provides opportunities to grow in whatever ways we choose.
I think I've very likely expanded on JFK's meaning when he made this statement. However, I have the personal freedom to interpret his statement as best fits my requirements . . . and so do you.