WARNING: This post is a bit deeper, personal and political than the others I have written.
With the world recession, banking crisis, youth unemployment and a host of other issues flying around at this time and after some questions and comments directed at me asking/questioning what I am about, I wanted to put out some thoughts I have on our modern society, what my beliefs are and what I stand for.
Yesterday I read some articles by Hunter S. Thompson the great journalist and writer who wrote among other things Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I didn’t know much about Hunter so I decided to read a little about the man himself.
I discovered that he was a rebel, his life went off the rails at 15 when his father died, he spent time in jail at 18 and he never graduated from high school. He also spent time living as a Hell’s Angel while writing about the biker gangs in his first major journalistic work.
What struck me was that in the 1950s it did not matter that this talented teen went to prison and dropped out of high school. It did not matter that he didn’t go to university or have any further education for that matter. He was still able to become one of the greatest journalists and writers of the last 100 years.
Things were not perfect then either but I believe that it was more acceptable (or questioned less) that people had the freedom to discover their talents and exhibit them to the world on a path of their choosing. Today we tell children and teenagers that you must do well in school and go to college or university to achieve anything and every job description for even the most basic of bottom rung jobs comes with a demand for a university degree. Working for a big corporation in a suit is something parents want for their children and boast to their friends when they achieve it.
The question I ask myself all the time is: Would young people like Hunter S. Thompson who had not even finished high school be able to discover and showcase their talents today? How many young, gifted geniuses are out their now being suppressed because they don’t have a piece of paper from an academic institution?
This isn’t just about academia and the demand for it (I have written enough on this before) but how we contain young people and everyone in general today.
Academics hate to admit it but the largest percentage of the worlds greatest and famous inventors, writers, poets, artists, entrepreneurs, explorers and musicians who are known, loved and respected all over the world (and studied in schools) had little or no kind of further education. But equally as important; they were never contained in such a closed, judgmental society that exists right now.
These game changers were on a voyage of discovery, to discover themselves, to learn about their own talents and skills that they were born with and become the person they were born to become. If we don’t let our children do the same now then who will invent the technology of the future? Who will create the next artistic movement? Who will travel to the far flung places and tell us the truth about what is happening there? Who will find a cheap cure for cancer or AIDS?
The answer to these questions is easy because it is already happening: Big corporations, governments and large academic institutions (in some cases worse than the greediest big corporates) will control all of this. Large record labels control what music gets released and played on the radio and TV. Large drug companies and academic institutions that work with them control what medicines are released and when and for what stupid price. The individuals that discover these medicines are just employees at academic institutions on minimum wage who will never get any recognition for their achievements. The big corporate media machine, influenced and often funded by governments, control what art, journalism, books, films and anything for that matter is fed to the masses.
I am not talking about communist China, I am talking about every nation on the planet. You may think I am exaggerating and maybe I am slightly but it has started and it will only get worse.
I recently read an article (sorry can’t remember who by) that looked at the decline in young new thinkers, real political heavyweights and influential young people coming through today in the United States. They questioned if this was due to the fact that these people tend to be rebellious individuals that question authority and anyone seeing a doctor today with these kind of personality traits would be medicated for a personality disorder. The theory also followed the line that a doctor has followed all conventions in society and education to get where he/she is so thinks of themselves as a benchmark of normality and everyone should be striving to be similar. So to a doctor a very rebellious child who questions any authority surely must have a personality disorder that should be treated/medicated. Have we already medicated into obscurity the next Vincent van Gogh, Nelson Mandela, Bob Dylan or Martin Luther King?
Being entrepreneurial is not just about dominating the business world and trying to become a billionaire. Hunter S. Thompson was an entrepreneurial freelance writer who did things his way and invented a new type of journalism. Claude Monet was an entrepreneurial artist that left school at 16 and pioneered a new style of impressionist art. Walt Disney was an entrepreneurial animator who dropped out of school at 16 and changed the world for children forever. Coco Channel was an orphan who only trained as a seamstress but her entrepreneurial nature challenged the male dominated fashion world of her time and women’s fashion was never the same again. And I could go on all day citing examples but I’d rather you go and find out for yourself.
This is what the individual entrepreneurial spirit is about. Personal freedom, rebellious discovery, creating something new and unique that you can be personally proud of and eternally associated with. You don’t have to follow convention, remember you ARE allowed to question it. We can’t all be the next Claude Monet or Hunter S. Thompson but we can discover our OWN real talents and use them to make the world a slightly better place even if it’s just the “world” in our city, town, village, street or within our family. That is what being an entrepreneur is really all about.
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