40 Lessons in 40 Years: Entry 17

Living in society involves being indoctrinated.

Between the ages of 15 and 17, I read books like Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, and 1984, and I quickly found myself feeling fairly disenfranchised and disillusioned with the world.

It wasn’t until I read Ishmael by Daniel Quinn that I finally started to realize that I was having truly counter-cultural feelings about the society in which I had been raised.

Sure, Mom was one of the very few Democrats in an otherwise Republican county, and Dad’s religious persuasion was “so open-minded that my brain fell out”–so I wasn’t unfamiliar with going against the grain a bit.

However, Quinn’s novel really called me to question some of the most basic fundamental assumptions that seem to belie “civilized” society and discourse.

Decades later, I can say that those early experiences of disillusion were absolutely necessary to put me on a path toward doing some good in the world. How far that will go remains to be seen…

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