Being the Black Sheep

"Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth."-John F. Kennedy

Why do we feel so inclined to fit in? The opinions of others- how celebrities,politicians and socialites are living their lives consumes ours so much we cease to truly live. In Plato’s Apology,Socrates surely doesn’t conform to the ideals of the society he lives in. He dares to question the unquestionable,the government,poets and politicians without blinking an eye. He isn’t intimidated by the power these people hold; “That government, as powerful as it was,did not frighten me into any wrongdoing.”(37) In response to Olivia’s questions: the jury helped elevate Socrates to the status of an idol becuause when he was asking Meletus questions,he made him seem less credible in his reasons for convicting Socrates. This made Socrates appear even more wise to the young men who were influenced by his “radical” ideas. I also think it was necessary for him to die as a martyr because it made a strong statement and made the young men more open about their loyalty to Socrates. His death also made people more appreciative of his philosophical.

Don’t we all wish to posses the confidence that Socrates had? His unwillingness to bend to the power of authority is something I wish I practiced more. For example, my appearance is something that has changed over the years depending on who I’ve been around. I attended an Islamic school throughout elementary school and the first two years of middle school. Because of the environment, I wore the head covering-the hijab. Even though, I wasn’t ready I felt like I needed to because all of the other girls were. When I entered the public school system I was taunted for wearing it so, I took it off. Then I put it back on because of the judgment I recived from my Muslim community. I decided in tenth grade to no longer wear it,it took quite a while of self reflection and growth of self esteem until I was comfortable with my choice. The Milgram experiment showed how deeply obedience is ingrained in us. It showed how easily we can be swayed by the rhetoric of others. Our lives are not truly our own when we follow the guidelines society has carefully laid out for each of us. This would be the case with Ivan.He was conforming to people of high status,”…he did what highly placed people considered right.”(51) His life was a constant competition with himself to see just how far up he could climb the social ladder. How far will we go to conform? Will our mission of conformity be the downfall of us as it was for Ivan? I think yes,striving to conform and being consumed with it will ultimately be our downfall.

Isn’t Worth Chasing

Obedience and the refusal to obey is a theme that plays throught the Milgram experiment,The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Apology. The Milgram experiment tests how far people will go to obey authority,despite moral conflictions. Today in class we discussed how Ivan was being obedient to the expectations of society. He had been programmed to work and climb the social ladder. And he realized that his life was practically a waste. Socrates tells the jury that despite what happens,he will continue to be a philosopher. He will not give up his lifestyle simply because others didn’t approve. The Milgram experiment is the thread that ties these two works together. Learning about the natural inclination for humans to obey authority helps us better understand what Ivan went through and what Socrates was saying in his apology. I agree with “nanny-15” that Ivan is more comparable to Meletus but I disagree with Ivan wanting wealth because of his wife. I feel like Ivan wanted wealth for the advancement of self. The Apology brings a question to mind: If you are told that your occupation is unacceptable,how long will it take until you quit-will you quit? Today,people aspiring to be a singer,actress,professional dancer,artist,author ect are often told that they need a plan B. They are told that the chances of them being discovered are slim,that their dream isn’t worth chasing. Defying or disobeying authority,society,religion,family expectations not only play a significant role in these three works but in our lives as well.

The Milgram Experiment & Ivan Ilyich

We are always told to do as we are told. Asking questions or simply refusing to obey authority is usually not an option. This article made the realization that humans aren’t as superior and morally upright as we’d like to think even more real and that we like to think that we can justify something wrong by saying the benefits outweigh the situation. More than half of the subjects,ranging in age and occupation,finished the experiment. More than half obeyed the orders of authority,the experimenter, and shocked “the learner” with 450 volts of electricity. The agony the victim endured could be heard through pounding,so what the victim was going through was something “the teacher” knew about-yet they continued on. This isn’t to say that the learner subjects were the only ones going through distress,the teacher showed signs of nervousness and uncertainty;three subjects had seizures. I recently watched a movie,Compliance, that is based on a true story of the Milgram study being used outside the rooms of an upscale labotory and instead in society. This movie helped me better understand the experiment. I agree with Taylor,Alec and Stacey that Ivan was being obedient to the expectations of society. And that obedience led him to lead an unhappy life. The learners who were affected by his obedience would be his family,who were showed no love or compassion,thus building unhealthy relationships with Ivan. The moment when Ivan experienced distress was when he was dying,realizing what he wasted to conform. But it was too late,Ivan at that point didn’t have the choice to back out of the experiment. He simply had to accept the choices he made. Therefore, Ivan felt like he was doing the right thing for himself by focusing on climbing the social ladder and he wasn’t aware of the negative effects this had on his relationship with others.

Different ways of grieving or simply not caring?

In response to Bean’s take on how Ivan is essentially mourning for himself,I think that Ivan is the only person who realizes how serious this kidney issue truly is. He even questions,”Isn’t it obvious to everybody except me that I’m dying and it is only a question of the number of weeks,days-right now,maybe.”(68). Ivan’s experience with grieving his own death is harrowing.Everyone around him is so oblivious to how he’s physically deteriorating,the “light gone from his eyes”,his brother in law called it. This brings me onto the topic of how others “grieve” over him.Ivan’s wife is perceived as the bearer of hardships. Like she had to put up with and adapt to her husband’s changed mood,this new bitterness that was just too much for her to handle. She relies heavily on what the doctored have diagnosed to the point where she calls her husband out because he doesn’t carefully follow their instructions. She’s burdened by the slow death of her husband because it was hard for her;too much. To get his mind off of his condition,Ivan
tries to find comfort in his work but that doesn’t work. When Gerasim is holding his legs,he realizes that physical interaction is what makes it easier for him for a while. In The Death of Ivan Illyid I’ve learned that the most important type of connection is the connection between humans.

In response to Bean’s take on how Ivan is essentially mourning for himself,I think that Ivan is the only person who realizes how serious this kidney issue truly is. He even questions,”Isn’t it obvious to everybody except me that I’m dying and it is only a question of the number of weeks,days-right now,maybe.”(68). Ivan’s experience with grieving his own death is harrowing.Everyone around him is so oblivious to how he’s physically deteriorating,the “light gone from his eyes”,his brother in law called it. This brings me onto the topic of how others “grieve” for him.Ivan’s wife is perceived as the bearer of hardships. Like she had to put up with and adapt to her husband’s changed mood,this new bitterness that was just too much for her to handle. She relies heavily on what the doctored have diagnosed to the point where she calls her husband out because he doesn’t carefully follow their instructions. She’s burdened by the slow death of her husband because it was hard for her;too much. To get his mind off of his condition,Ivan
tries to find comfort in his work but that doesn’t work. When Gerasim is holding his legs,he realizes that physical interaction is what makes it easier for him for a while. In The Death of Ivan Illyid I’ve learned that the most important type of connection is the connection between humans.

The Role of Relationships in The Death of Ivan Ilyich

Ivan’s variety of unhealthy relationships is displayed in the first two parts of The Death of Ivan Ilyich. Speaking on Jacqlen’s post about Golovin’s relationship with her husband, I think that it isn’t uncommon for people,regardless of status,marry for the wrong reasons. In The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Ilyich married Golovin because “he did something pleasant for himself in acquiring such a wife,and at the same time he did what highly placed people considered” (51). An aspect of The Death of Ivan Ilyich & Other Stories by Tolstoy that I found really interesting was the reaction of Ivanovich to the death of Ilyich. He didn’t seem to care about the death of his supposed “best friend”. An example of this would be,upon receiving the news of the death of Ilyich,Ivanovich initially thought about improving the relationship between him and his wife’s family. The rocky relationship between Ivan and his wife combined with the emotionally distant relatationship between him and his friends poses a question, How does one know who their best friend truly is? I also hope that as we delve further into the reading,we will find out if the relationship between Ilyich and Ivanovich changed throughout their lives.