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It has become a passion, if not borderline obsession, of mine to reassess assumptions that I have made or have been passed on to me by my peers or my family. I do this because the environment and the people within it never cease to fascinate me, and it’s obvious that many things that have been presented to me as fact or truth are very often at best partially true. My approach to this in recent years has grown to be more and more systematic, and I have engaging conversations on what might be explored about reality.


Among the toughest, and thus scariest, things an individual can do is question the reality around them. The reflection required to do so is often challenging, because it may require an individual to actually change behaviors that don’t fit the new understanding that develops. If I conclude that people are worthy of trust, does that mean that I should trust more? Gasp! If I conclude that we are more mutualistic and cooperative than selfish, does that mean that I should reach out to people that I don’t know and get to know them and learn how to share experiences and resources… GASP!!!

…many may find themselves, even as they read, retreating into themselves and the comfortable spaces behind their laptops and mobile devices… safe from the potential discomfort of change that inevitably comes from discomfort.

I honestly believe that more often than not, my peers are up to the challenge of doing something new. We are quite aware that things aren’t as they need to be for us all to rise to our full potential in our contribution to society. There are many things that we know  get in the way of progress and need to change, regardless of the discomfort that may come from that change.

My question for each reader to ask themselves is this: What things in our society need to improve for ALL people to benefit from our progress? What changes can I, as an individual, make to contribute to that improvement?

My prayer is that we can explore the above theme with more detail as we move along…

…coming next… The Self/Individualism

Oak Ritchie is a native of South Carolina, and has lived all over the East Coast and the Caribbean. He presently lives in Carrboro, NC, where he is working with a variety of visual mediums and blogs at Steady Flow.


  1. Rebecca

    8 January, 2012 at 4:33 am

    Oak, I was just reading something pertinent to what you are talking about and asking about. We DO have these little “watchdogs” in our heads – they are there from our parents, our friends, our whoevers…that say…do this, don’t do that. They are ingrained from the way we were raised. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they are true, or that they are correct for us as adults. A watchdog watches, but the person needs to decide if the watchdog should or shouldn’t be in control. We DO need to speak our feelings when they are real. We DO need to open ourselves to friendships based upon common interests, or more – for example you and I – on just a gut feeling we find each other groovy and interesting. And having your friendship has enriched my life, so I am grateful we both “allowed” it to happen – even if the watchdog may have asked either of us if it was something we would have thought worthwhile at the time. (really, a OCD vendor and a production guy?) And though I have many personality traits that some would consider “faults” – they are me, the real me and though I continue to strive to be a better me, it’s still going to be the real me. Reality is truly what you make of it. You know this. When you wake up in the morning you decide if it’s going to be a wonderful day or a horrible one, based upon the attitude you take…and doesn’t it always seem to be exactly what you thought it would be? That’s reality. If I wake up and say “Today is going to be a terrific day” and react to everything that happens to me accordingly – then I ended up with a terrific day. That’s reality. We are in control of it. We can choose to befriend people that on the outside seem unlikely friends, yet we see a small glimpse of something more. More often than not, we ignore those glimpses, the watchdog wins. In the case of you and I, I’m glad we didn’t. Even if we never lay eyes on each other again, I will always have you in my heart as my friend. And for that I can say I’m grateful. You have touched me in ways you aren’t aware, and I am thankful to call you my friend. And in our short time, at least on common ground, I also chose to give you my trust. (notice the “chose”) You, with your long dreads, doing one of a hosts “enemy” jobs, and your lovely soothing voice ran right past my watchdog in about 3 seconds flat. Yes, choose. Yes take the plunge. Gasp if you must, but the payoff is right in front of you.

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