What to Join? from Ken Smith

October 13, 2007 |

SalvationWhat to join? I think it matters a lot. People join groups for advantages, and weigh advantages of one outfit aside another. Choosing an outfit to join is crucial to success in many walks of life.

I've heard a lot about networking. It's supposed to be more important than many other strategies. I am a loner and have never had the advantages derived from memberships. I've always been disconnected.

One can think of the hypocrisy involved, but humans probably don't. Survival mechanisms are not based on ethical principles, they are based on the reptilian brain, that small core mass of tissue which sits between the end of the spinal cord and then beginning of the larger brain. Can be likened to crocodile brain tissue.

A recruiter for Opus Dei mailed invitations to me for a couple of years, maybe got my name from The Catholic Wanderer, or parish list where I attended daily 6 am mass for a long time.

I read a lot about Opus Dei, and declined the invitations. I just could not join. I can say I joined the Teamsters Union and the Inlandboatman's Union and the Sailor's Union of the Pacific. These were job related, so to survive, membership was mandatory.

Thinking back in time I remember going to a summer camp with a Boy Scout group, but did not join as my family was poor during the Great Depression. My tuition to the week long camping experience was probably funded by members of a Pentecostal Church where my mother played music, sang gospel, and preached to skid-row indigents, drunks, homeless characters, prostitutes, as the folk in the Salvation Army used to do. Play music in the streets, draw a crowd and voice invitations to sinners to be saved.

I thought about joining the Salvation Army once. I got tired of looking at my wardrobe daily, trying always to decide what to wear for the day, the trip, the movie, the event. I noticed the Army members always had just one outfit, a uniform. It seemed efficient to me that if I joined I would eliminate the stress of deciding what to wear every day. Just put on the uniform.

But joining just for the fashion would've been hypocrisy, huh?

Stefan Jovanovich extends:

One of our family's favorite movies is Grosse Point Blank. It is excessive and self-indulgent at times, but it has true wit. Our daughter Nora loves it because the music was done by Joe Strummer, her all-time favorite rock and roll musician. What we all love is the absurdist subplot in which Dan Aykroyd's character is trying to organize a union of assassins, and he is recruiting John Cusack's character to join. Aykroyd meets with determined sales resistance, and by the end of the movie he and Cusack are trying to kill each other in a gun battle. But, they still have time to carry on the discussion about the assassins' union while shooting at each other. At one point Cusack asks "Are there any meetings?" Aykroyd replies "Of course, there are meetings." As he returns fire, Cusack shouts "No meetings!"


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