This essay is one of thirty-six I've compiled into a collection titled My Rogue Mile, which will be released later this year. You can see the cover on the top of the right sidebar.
THERE'S AN insulting meme floating around the cesspool that is the Internet these days. You see it especially on political sites. It's the "special snowflake" meme. It's what one commenter or writer calls others whom the commenter or writer feels is behaving in a precious fashion.
"You're a special snowflake." You can hear the elementary teacher say that to her students. Snowflakes are unique, she says. And because they are unique they are special and should not waste such an incredible blessing.
Of course (of course!) people took that startling moment of phenomenological realization and perverted it into an insult. It's what people do. Especially, it seems, these days, when so many seem to do little else with their lives, if you can call them that.
Of course, there are those who do behave in a precious fashion, who take slight at the slightest slight, who shriek "UNFAIR!" when their positions or opinions are challenged. Writers are particularly problematic in this fashion. It's one of the many reasons why I don't associate with them.
All that aside, and speaking only to those who don't behave like that, I want to look at the idea of uniqueness a little more. The reason why is because as a fact, our uniqueness is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, spiritual blessing of our existence.
We are not even the same each day, or even each moment of each day. Remember Heraclitus? "No man ever steps into the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man." Our uniqueness isn't just factual, it's factual at each moment of time, no matter how finely you splice the seconds. Even more startling, our uniqueness each moment is guaranteed, meaning there is no moment when anything else in creation is exactly the same as you, no matter how similar you may be to another. You'll never get to the point of total similarity. Not even if you had a clone.
You, in effect, aren't a noun. You're a verb.
If that doesn't blow your mind, then I don't know what will.
As consumers, we have been taught to regard everybody and everything as consumable, as dispensable, as cogs, as the same. We were taught to slot everybody and everything into groups, into packages, into ideologies, into religions, into isms, into classes and cults and income brackets and ranks. And indeed, what do people do? They herd themselves just as they are taught to! They deny their uniqueness, and then they deny it in others. Is it any wonder then that that teacher's words are mauled into an insult? Is it any wonder that the hateful face of fascism is once again looming?
I have fought against this brainwashing my entire life. I can tell you without hesitation that it has been one of the most difficult things I've ever done. And it's never over. I fight against it each and every day even now. I know I will until I draw my last breath.
The truth is, we are indeed, each of us, a "special snowflake." It is not just a little tragic that denying that in ourselves and others has become a point of pride for so many. People who truly realize their uniqueness never act in a precious fashion. It doesn't make them overly sensitive; it in fact emboldens them and empowers them to courageous living and courageous deeds.
You are not a noun. You are a verb.
Your expression in creation is entirely your own. You are indeed a special snowflake. Within that fact you have freedom to move. Shall you herd yourself about, damning your potential, or shall you free yourself and strike out and in so doing change the world forever, no matter how slightly?