Standing Apart

You are not better merely for standing apart — many who stand apart are only fools or fugitives. But neither can you become better until you stand apart.

Those in the crowd hate the one who stands apart, because they lack the courage to risk becoming better themselves, and failing — and because they fear being left behind. Nothing angers the crowd more, and evokes their violent instincts more ferociously, than the vague awareness that a man who has separated himself might not care about their hatred. Nothing fosters murderous rage like ineffectual hatred. (This was Socrates’ fate; democratic Athens executed him for being unconcerned about their disapproval, and for daring to express that unconcern to their faces.)

If the crowd’s hatred, real or predicted, is still affecting you, then you are not yet standing apart. You may be posing as apart (acting), or practicing for it (learning), but you are not yet truly standing upright on your own power — you are still leaning on the crowd.

Many believe they are standing apart when they are merely shouting together.

Many confuse standing apart with standing on a stage, as though doing a song and dance routine to please an audience were not the antithesis of independence.

If you stand apart, you may be a fool, a fugitive, or one on a path to becoming the best kind of human being, namely an actualized individual. The crowd usually acknowledges only the first two possibilities, because to grant the existence of the third would be to admit something about themselves, something they would prefer not to face. 

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