People can decide to not be. The most drastic form of this decision is suicide, which is relatively uncommon, but the decision to be less than fully alive in difficult social situations is not only common, but normal.
We have decided not to be is the right way of being, if that makes any sense – which I believe it does. Ideally, everyone should be able to become their own person, and one can see any small child actively engaged in doing this.
Usually by age three our basic personalities have developed, and it is very difficult to change this later – but not impossible. When a person marries, for example, they change as a result. Two people this close will naturally change each other – and quite often they will decide they do not like what happens and they terminate the marriage, one way or the other.
Literature is full of stories of how people change or refuse to change, it is one of our permanent fascinations – as any gossip knows. At the mundane level we make decisions all the time – what we are going to have for breakfast, for example. But these do no usually change our personalities or our way of life. Conversion experiences, on the other hand, such as a religious conversion, do change our way of life.
These are dramatic and easily observed. The kind of change I am concerned with now is more subtle – but no less important. It is a decision by an individual or a culture to live an extremely reduced form of life (sometimes referred to as a mass mentality). To have a drastically reduced existence where nothing important is allowed to go on.
One can easily see this during any rush hour – millions of bored people who have temporarily put their lives on hold. One can also observe that they do not instantly recover from this when the arrive at work, but this deadness carries over into the rest of their working life. They know what they are doing is a waste of their lives, and they cannot get enthusiastic about it.
Companies have to devise all kinds of strategies to overcome this – or they may simply let it alone, and expect only a minimum performance of routine work. Either way, the results are not desirable, and result in a deadening in many ways.
Individuals devise all kind of ways of coping with this (or fighting it) as councilors of every kind know. But quite often they just give up. They will still function as bodies, but not as minds. They lose any ability, or any desire, to understand themselves or question their situation. And they get the instant feedback that this is the right thing to do. Everyone is on the same boat, and everyone is telling everyone else that everything is OK – when death is staring them right in the face.
It is painful to see this happening to other people, or even whole families, or even groups of countries – such as America and the EU. The cannot recover because they do not have what they need to recover – their Selves. But they are firmly convinced they are doing the right thing. Which perhaps they are – any species that destroys itself does not deserve to live.