Conformity of Thought Kills Alignment

Below is Whisper #41 from my latest book, 48 WHISPERS, which is a collection of photographs and personal meditations created across a decade of travel to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and the surrounding northern plains. 

Imagine a scene from a totalitarian regime rally in a great square before an imposing granite capital. The entire gathering chants in unison and the collective will seems insurmountable. But we all know that’s neither alignment nor consensus. That’s leadership intimidation, overreaching, and excessive control. It’s those with the most power restricting the voices of others.

Conformity of Thought Kills Alignment quote bubble

Self-centered organizations have often pursued a single truth recited by all. But that’s an unsustainable mission pursued by dogmatic and self-serving empires. Voices are meant to be unique by design. Excessive conformity restricts freedom. True synergy only manifests from the presence of a diversity of views and the acceptance of all voices.

In order for people to say what they truly think, the culture of their community must be safe. For dialogue to be safe we must refrain from judging what others say. It’s only when people feel safe that they will let down their guard and open themselves to introspection and new ideas. The only voice any of us should shape is our own.

Diversity of thought is essential to a free and healthy society. It’s the conformity of thought that kills alignment. It may feel tempting to eradicate thinking that’s fundamentally different from our own, but in the end, either everyone is free to speak or no one is. A far better skill is to be able to state the views of others to their satisfaction without feeling threatened or compromised.

A great country tolerates a wide range of voices.

Two bison on a hillside