Two is a crowd
Two is a crowd - by P.K.Odendaal - August 2013
I have dwelt on solitude somewhat in my previous series named 'Death in the Afternoon', but I wish to revisit it here, being very important to our anti-social needs - if anti-social rings a bell for you somewhere. For me it is important.
It is so that the person who has the least privacy in the world - a non-commissioned soldier - is called a Private. I wonder why, because, in all earnestness, he should be called a Public. Apart from his public duties, his work is also open to public scrutiny.
I think this is the most precious state I wish to be in. In this state my thoughts and actions can be uninhibited and unbridled - and I like that a million. In this state nobody can blame, overrule, scold, criticise or obstruct me.
Safety and Security.
These are two words in which the most brutal atrocities in the world are committed. If you want someone to protect you, you must give off most of your privacy, so that they can assure your safety and security. Privacy and Safety and Security are two opposites or antonyms. I think that is why many people like adventure. It makes them free from safety and security - and adventure I like, although I am scared to death just thinking about it. Send me to the moon or into the Borneo rain forest and that would be the end of me - but still I like the romantic thought of adventure.
However, on a more public and governmental level, safety and security is what governments use to make war on their competition or enemies, and what they use to undermine domestic trouble caused by people who have a different opinion of how they should be ruled. The Snowden NSA debacle is a very good example of this - of governments running wild and unbridled at the cost of the privacy of anyone else.
It is said that two is a company and three is a crowd. I do not agree with that. I think one is a company and two is a crowd, for the simple reason that to add anybody to our solitude would be to inhibit us. It will force us into accommodation of the second person and of compromise with him or her - and that crowds our lifestyle - unless of course it is for short periods by our own free will, invitation or volition. I also realise of course that the world has seven billion people and that a state of solitude cannot be attained for long.
As soon as we are two, there will be a difference of opinion - that is a given. But it goes much further. It increases our inhibitions. If we were nudists - which I fortunately we not, I hope - a second person would inhibit our nudity. This is a physical thing, but you can extend that to emotion, feelings and thoughts. I personally will not cry or show deep emotions in the presence of anybody.
What company brings us is compromise, inhibitions, loss of freedom, convention and decorum, standardized responses, pretension and many more of these things that help to build a wall or smokescreen between us and the company we have.
What is next is that we need almost superhuman courage, diplomacy, tact and insight to expose our vulnerability to connect to this company we are with - and that is risky, troublesome, humiliating and it takes effort. Otherwise, we can stay superficial; but what use is that? We can then rather connect with inanimate things, as most of the world does nowadays, if we wish to have a superficial relationship - it is much safer. Our whole nature and social needs centre around being with company or at least with people or being social.
So, we have this conflict in our lives - between solitude and company, between privacy and security, between being free of inhibitions and exposing our vulnerability. And what shall we choose? I think many of us will choose solitude - and that leads us into the trap of becoming hermits. The last thing we want to be is a hermit; so, are we going to steer away from solitude? I think we should. We wish to be social animals, but we also realise that it takes social skills to be social animals; a skill almost non-existent in Homo sapiens - more basic animals have much more social skills than we have.
So, every time we go from solitude to company, we expose ourselves to all sorts of wonderful experiences and outcomes for which we are not prepared, and that is the excitement of life! Entering these battlefields of the mind with trepidation and excitement is what life is about. And many times we return from these skirmishes called social gatherings all scarred, scathed and upset, although we might escape with impunity now and then.
This minefield of social interaction hones our social skills and makes us ready to enter the field of human endeavour, values and recognition, dignity and service and a fulfilled life.