Let me acknowledge right off the bat that the attitude and world view I'm about to share with the readers are not things every person is able to embrace, for many (obvious) reasons, the main one being people's innate instinct for survival, and acceptance. However, for me (personally), I can't imagine any other way to live life.
Also, I'd like to think that I've never been too dogmatic or rigid about my views to the point where they become untenable. For example, (as I've written before) I served in the military and received an honorable discharge, I've never been fired from a job, and (thank the goddess) I've never been in a physical altercation as an adult (although growing up that's a different story).
Let me start with this... I know that life is (or can be) tough and that in a society such as ours where the ethos of competitiveness (for average folks) and oligarchical predation (for the ruling class) can lead to some sort of dog-eat-dog world, one must find ways to at least survive, understanding that we don't live in a just and perfect world.
Having said that, I've come to the conclusion that at least to me (personally), as long as I have shelter (and that could be a space with some nice square footage to a tiny room, or a trailer), food, water, clothing and health, and of course, love (some say that's all you need), I'm happy.
And throughout life, I've experience both extremes... From poverty, brief periods of homelessness (mainly as an adventurous youth), very violent neighborhoods, to six figure salaries, nice sport cars, extensive traveling and nice hotels (and great meals). Sometimes back and forth...
But through it all I've been very consistent with a couple of things, which point to what I value most, and my world view: For as far back as I can remember I've always felt I had a very solid understanding of who I am as a person, what my beliefs are when it comes to justice, fairness, honesty, compassion, work, leisure, and ethics, and therefore have never, ever given a shit about what people thought about me, or about trying to impress anybody, or trying to fit in. That means that I've never sought the validation of others in order to feel whole as a person.
Again, insofar as I've had friends, good (or no so good) jobs, relationships, social interactions, I've always felt I've done it on my terms, which means I haven't had to compromise my values in a quest to fit in.
And as I reflect, as sometimes one does when one reaches middle age, I can't think of no better example of freedom than being able to speak one's mind in the face of unfairness, injustices, obfuscation, manipulation, or wrongdoing without fear.
I've done it in every environment I've been, always. I've spoken plainly and fearlessly to CEO's, supervisors and bosses who had the power to retaliate; I've spoken plainly and without fear (as board member) of organizations I thought were not serving the membership well; I've spoken plainly and fearlessly when I was in the military... And I've spoken plainly and fearlessly any time I perceived that people were trying to deceive, to manipulate, to use other people by pretending to be one thing, by talking a good game, but doing something completely different, as I consider those folks kind of sociopathic.
I can't lie and claim that taking that posture is easy, and that I haven't gotten a few (figurative) black eyes in the process. But what I can say is that if there have been negative consequences for daring the speak the truth without fear, they have been well worth it. And I can also say that any negative consequences pale in comparison with both, the satisfaction of calling a spade a spade, and inspiring others to do the same.
Throughout the years I've spoken to many people about these issues, and one thing I can tell you is that when people feel forced to accept and condone injustices, false narratives, inconsistencies, just because they feel that's what they have to do to survive and fit in, they end up paying for it with life-long emotional scars. They may be able to keep the nice job and car, but deep down they know they had to sell their soul in exchange.
Again, I do try to be practical and survive (and if possible thrive) just like anybody else, but when it comes to compromising my values and principles and ethics in exchange for acceptance and benefits, that's something I'm not willing to do, and that's why wherever I am, I will always call out the bullshit when I see it.
The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.
-- Albert Einstein