In high school, I got involved with people who often made questionable choices in the name of nonconformity. Their ideals appealed to me. Like them, I wasn’t content with the status quo and felt there had to be a better way to live, somewhere. I’d heard of a commune located far up in the mountains, and I thought it would be interesting to see a community of people who claimed they shared a better approach to life by separating themselves from society and by creating their own values.
When my mom and I arrived at the commune, we were warmly welcomed by people who seemed happy and embracing. But when I was given a tour of the living areas, members of the commune started asking me strange questions. For example: Would I transition my car’s ownership to the group? These inquiries niggled at me, giving me the sense that something wasn’t quite right. Still, I thought I could at least give the community a try; the lifestyle seemed attractive and happy, separate from the busy world. I thought living with this group would give me time to search for the truths about life.
Everything from an innocuous Facebook “like,” to the pull to join an extremist organization, requires us to think for ourselves.