Do you sometimes get the feeling that life is like a high speed train that shoots past you leaving you dazzled in a cloud of dust? Or perhaps from time to time you feel that the world is a giant merry-go-round that spins around with people merrily enjoying the ride, each and every one of them but you? Do you ever find yourself standing still every now and then, wondering about the core values of life, as if mesmerized, or feel an urge to find your own place and purpose in life and get rather desperate not knowing where or how to find it? If you get the drift, then keep reading. If not, then … well …
Man has been facing philosophical problems throughout his existence. Existential issues, such as one’s purpose in life vs. meaninglessness of everyday affairs, predetermined destiny vs. chaos and chance etc., have always accompanied man’s quest. However, if you look around, it’s pretty clear that these are not everybody’s problems. Most people seem to be busy enjoying the ride on the fun-wheel called life. They always get the best seats, make a career, have dozens of friends to hang out with. In other words, they fit in. And together they form what is known as an average person, the average Joe. You know, the regular consumer guy, the addressee of all possible TV ads and commercials, the citizen of supermarkets and the inhabitant of malls. They walk their path rather unconcerned, relying on the system and accepting whatever the mainstream has in store for them, no questions asked. As if having handed over the control and allowed other people to do the thinking and run their lives for them. Like cattle. Except willingly.
Nevertheless, there are and always have been people who stand back, take their time to observe and question the whole spectacle, people who sometimes find things are fundamentally odd in their view. They’re not fulfilled with the stuff that majority finds fulfilling. They look the other way. In the most conventional way they’re strange since they don’t exactly meet the characteristics of the average. They have a hard time fitting in. They’re people not of this foolish world. They’re outsiders.
Now, here’s a practical task. Detect an outsider in this picture:
Who is an outsider? How to distinguish them from ordinary people? I thought you’d never ask :) Actually, it’s quite simple. The man who is interested to know how he should live instead of merely taking life as it comes, is automatically an outsider. Frankly, if you think you are an outsider, then you already are. According to a British writer C. Wilson, outsiders have their proper place in the order of society, therefore the importance of outsiders in society is undeniable. Wilson states that they are the spiritual dynamos and that the vitality of the ordinary members of society is dependent on its outsiders. Such a statement clearly divides the society into two distinct groups of people: ordinary members and outsiders with an open implication of the latter being … what … superior? So, their success or failure will in one way or another determine the fate of all the rest.
The main concern of outsiders is a philosophical answer to the practical question: What shall we do with our lives? Wilson asserts that there are two opposed realms in an outsider’s world. One is neatly ordered and the other controlled by chaos. Good and evil. The problem is that in order to achieve self-realization within the boundaries of the good and well-ordered world, one must face the trial of chaos and evil first, overcome it and then return to the good. Only then will he be able to comprehend its concept, live by it and set an example for others seeking the same purpose. Think of the New Testament and the example of Jesus, the Son of Man. Wasn’t he taken into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil for forty days before he was able to start his ministry on Earth and set the new order? This is man’s challenge. To face the trials and tribulations and pass the test. You must be able to go through thick and thin in order to make a difference. If you fail, well, … you’re ordinary.
Here’s another example which, in my mind, has drawn a great deal from the previous one. Think of the protagonist in many Hollywood action movies. Don’t they follow the same simple pattern in most plots: happy life > trouble turning into world crisis > a lonely hero with lots of confrontation > crucial moment > inner struggle where the hero finally sorts things out for himself > inhumane self-sacrifice > happy life? At one point the evil in these films always seems to find the weak spot of the system causing it to malfunction, the authorities, in this context the ordinary people, become a bunch of useless idiots and everything boils down to the (controversial) qualities of just one person – the hero who will eventually save the day for everybody – the outsider, who by ignoring the ordinary achieves extraordinary, by defying natural accomplishes supernatural.