CRAB BUCKET SYNDROME, CONFORMITY & JONESTOWN
There is a famous saying about crabs that also represents what often happens in social situations when one person is trying to better themselves in a family or a community. If we put a single crab in a lidless bucket, it can escape easily. When we put crabs in together, as soon as one crab elevates it’s self above the rest, others will grab it and pull it back down to force it to share in a mutual and gloomy fate with the rest of them. It’s important to understand what some refer to as “Crab Bucket Syndrome” because it’s all around us impeding our personal growth. People from the ghetto, might simply use the term hatters to describe this same occurrence.
Most people don’t want us to become successful because of their own deep fears and inadequacies. Most people don’t become successful because they fear success. When we have a big dream and are actively working to bring it into full manifestation, it automatically puts others on guard because they are forced to evaluate themselves and ask if they actually did anything they really wanted to do or have they just been complacently living a very stagnant, repressive, predictable and boring life this whole time due to outside influences and their own failures to assert their own individuality. Most people are too afraid to live how they really want. Instead they live for social acceptance because it’s easier.
It’s easier to be on the side of the majority, though the majority is often wrong. Group think and herd mentality is a great danger not only to society, but our individual circumstances. The Holocaust is the best example of the devastation of group think and blind obedience and a more recent example of this is the mass murder that happened at Jonestown in 1978. For years people followed this psychotic man, thinking he would change the world. Ultimately he slaughtered 909 of his followers. Some people refer to the events of Jonestown as a Mass suicide, but it was clearly a mass murder just like the Holocaust. The media wrongly reported that his followers willingly followed their leader into the great beyond by sipping on some cyanide cocktails, but later evidence reveals many of the bodies were dragged back to the site, implying these people fled for their lives. Both Adolf Hitler and Jim Jones used religion as a means to gain control.
When we finally find the courage to live for ourselves it can be meant with hostility, which was the case at Jonestown, when the people were ready to go home, and had an opportunity to leave, there new found courage inspired their leader to murder them. This reason is why most people would rather practice the socially acceptable behavior of their community then follow their higher instincts of what is right and wrong. Roman historian Tacitus said, “The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise." It’s imperative to understand that Jonestown followers thought they were building a new world that would break away from repression and treat people fairly. The people of Jonestown were trying to build an alternative society where they could feel freer than their American counterparts.
It’s imperative to understand the historical context; most of the followers were African Americans coming out of America in the time of the civil rights movement. America was experiencing a political upheaval, a lot of race riots; a lot of blacks were being locked up and imprisoned, lynched and hung. It was easy to convince people Jonestown would be the promise-land. However, it was built in a similar fashion of countries from the past. It started with a promise of hope, and slowly transformed into a dictatorship where power and personal choice were slowly taken away. Jonestown is a minuscule representation of what happens in social institutions that are built on the desire to control, rather than empower, and therefore represents society in a larger picture.
Humans are social creatures. We exist in groups. We are all naturally people pleasers. The problem with being a people pleaser is we try to be what is expected of us, what is encouraged in us, even if it is nothing like who we are at the core. We become what our parents tell us to become, our friends, teachers and preachers. Because the voices of others are so loud and bombarding from an early age, it is easy to lose our identities in the shuffle. We simply are denied access to our inner voices because others demand we do things right away, go to church, go to school, be pretty, popular and straight, sex is bad, money is evil, trust nobody, blacks are thieves, women are horrible drivers, men know better and should be the head of the house.All these things are inaccurate prejudices that are forced into our perceptions.
Everyone’s opinions about the world are introduced to our young fragile minds as fact, and most of the time it is stuffed in our heads in a forceful manner. We have no choice. We are not allowed to escape it until we are older. Overtime, the voices of others start to work like a hammer breaking down our inner fortress, and once we are rubble, they reshape us in any manner they please. Make no mistake, we are all brainwashed from a young age. Some of us realize this and the search for our authentic selves. It is not easy to figure out who we are or what we really believe in. It requires bravery, the ability to go against the grain, decide for ourselves what is right, even if legions of people are declaring we are wrong and ready to persecute us. It takes strength and courage to be authentic in character.The command man know thyself, is not only philosophical, but it is biblical. Socrates said “The unexamined life is not worth living”.
Excerpt from Transforming the Victim by Lyon Brave"""
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