WIKIPEDIA defines “authenticity” in psychology as “the attempt to live one’s life according to the needs of one’s inner being, rather than the demands of society or one’s early conditioning.” An authentic person follows the moral dictates of her/his true self rather than the demands of the false persona society has conditioned her/him to have.
Society is subconsciously driven to preserve and perpetuate itself by conditioning members to think and behave in conformity with the ideas and practices of its economic, political and cultural systems. Non-conformist ideas, attitudes, and behavior are frowned on as corrosive of society’s structural strength and stability.
It follows that positive change can be triggered only by society’s authentic members or those who by inner conviction are unaccepting of the conformist ways society is constructing them. They refuse to conform because they are magnetized by a different vision of society and irrepressibly driven to pursue that vision.
Conversely change cannot come from society’s privileged members. The social structure’s bias towards them blind-sides them of systemic weak spots and prevents them from feeling the need to effect anything more than cosmetic change. The perks of their privileged status often (though not always) prevent them from heeding the call to authenticity.
That is why the Philippines cannot hope to become a more just society (like with an inclusive economic system and proportionate representation in government) on the initiative of the ruling elite that even as we write are scheming (with a blatantly pro-dynasty charter) to maintain their exclusive hold on the country’s wealth and power.
(Similarly, Catholic bishops cannot be expected to make relevant changes in Church life either. Blinded by the perks of a monarchical Church setup, they fail to see the un-Christlikeness of commercializing sacraments and treating the laity as ruled subjects. Moreover, as de facto members of the privileged class, they are more a part of the social problem than of the solution.)
The opposite of authenticity is hypocrisy or pretense (“behavior that contradicts what one believes or feels”), an art form that has been developed and practiced to perfection by many of our society’s leaders. (Could this be why they don’t know how to deal with a President who has no pretenses?)
Yet, authenticity is losing people not so much to hypocrisy as to social media that sensitize them into indifference towards the ugly truths and lies of society. My New Year’s wish is for people, specially the youth, to refuse to be sensitized, struggle instead to be authentic, and thus call out the hypocrisy and pretense of leaders.
An authentic New Year everyone.