Click the link to read a series of posts I wrote about alienation. We always think of it as bad thing, which it is, but there is another side to it. First, some definitions:
Google Web Definitions
If I were to give my own definition of alienation, I would say something like:
Alienation: The state of being separated or excluded from the dominant group, or society in general. This state can results in feelings of isolation, guilt, or depression. Many times it is a result of not fulfilling, or rejecting the societal demands of the dominant group,Feelings of alienation lead people to not only believe that they are separated from the world around them, but it makes them believe they are intrinsically different from everyone else around them. Of course, many alienated people feel like they are losers, just don't fit in,don't measure up, etc. etc.
What about the other side? I believe alienated people also start to develop the belief that they are better than the world that rejects them. "The whole world is nuts-I'm the only sane one!" is a natural thought of alienated people.
Actually, our mind will probably pick one of these two responses to feeling alienation. It either decides that society is right, and that they are failures that need to submit to society's demands in order to be accepted, or the mind decides that everyone around them is wrong, and they are the only sane one in a world gone mad.
In my own case, I have felt both of these feelings. I've felt guilty I could not be as successful as the other call center superstars. I've wished I could have received the performance plaques, and went to the pizza parties put on for the top performers. On the other hand, I have considered that I am the one who is right and they are wrong. I have seen what my call center society refuses to see: how running a business by queue times and average call length alone makes for unhappy customers. I have seen how treating people and employees well is more important than all the profits in the world. I'm sure that there are other people in my company that feel this way, it's just not something you discuss during working hours.
My point is that I am beginning the think that alienation is good for society. It is part of the evolution of a society. Without people who are on the outside of the dominant group, looking in and seeing what is wrong with that group, there is not a chance for positive change. It can be argued that alienation is almost like Darwin's theory of adaptation. Society tends toward methods and beliefs that are self-defeating and cannot always reproduce themselves forever. More clearly, the dominant ideas are like inbreeding. "We've always done it this way. There is no other way. Any change must be wrong." is the sort of thing that results when everyone is accepted and obeys the dominant paradigm.
Without people on the outside doing things differently, how will society change? Jesus Christ was alienated from the dominant religious group, but he made a great change to society. How many other people that were isolated from the dominant group eventually changed that group? People like Martin Luther, Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, I could go on and on, but I think you can see my point.
Alienation feels horrible at the time. So often It results in loneliness, isolation, depression and hopelessness. I know, I've felt that way before, but it doesn't have to end as a bad thing. It is possible for alienation to be the catalyst to a better world. I guess the outcome is up to the individual.
Thanks for reading,
Purgatory: A place of suffering and torment with an unknown duration. In Roman Catholic Theology-the place where the dead are purified from their sins.
By Rage Against The Machine