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To Thine Own Self Be True
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The exhortation reads: Give up living your life to other people's expectations, living your life according to what other people think is best for you, to what friends, enemies, parents, spouse, teachers, children, expect.

That is the way to lose control over your life, forget what makes you happy, forget who you are, forget your life's path.

I'm reading this and thinking: Yes, I agree.

Then another thought pops up. But wait. We are social creatures. We live in community, not in isolation. So it seems right that we modify our behavior to fit in with our social groups.

If we were monads (see Decartes, Spinoza, Leibnitz), living untouched by all other creatures, then perhaps the exhortation to eschew all other influences and be yourself might be purely true.

But for me, part of myself is that I'm a social being, a member of my pack, a participant in community, at least some of the time. It seems right, somehow, that I would be influenced both in thinking and behavior by my group.

Perhaps the exhortation I gave at the beginning is talking about undue, overwhelming, influence. If so, where and how do we draw the line? Where are the boundaries of group and community versus individual and self? How do we know them?

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