Observations on Society:
Judgments, Character, and Freedom

By Edmund Janas

If I just listened to my father, I’d be a millionaire. If I pursued my art, I’d be a millionaire. Tech, acting – any path, really, would have left me well-off. It never occurs to most that someone could live for something deeper than what they hold as sacred. Yet when people dismiss my efforts, imply I’m underachieving or unintelligent, I find endless amusement in it. I never tell them what I do…they just assume, and most lack the curiosity to ask. Go ahead, make all the
assumptions you want.

It never occurs to them that I’m studying their behavior as closely as they are judging my social standing. Yes, I observe how they revere the rich and powerful, yet often treat the waitress or the poor with disdain or contempt. When we talk, I note which topics they avoid, how much they listen and when they cut me off abruptly or change topics. I watch them too. Not because I wait in judgment, but rather, I’m a curious writer and humans fascinate me. Especially cruel ones, or ones who are passionate–those who hate and love deeply. But I also find the indifferent and incurious the most interesting.

I love to observe a good mindless follower. A self-loathing sell-out, I can spot a mile coming. A lying professional, a lawyer with no bottom, the dreamer who strives, the lazy person who wants a free ride and first-class treatment. Do they treat animals well? That’s the biggest tell of all. People drop clues like Eliza Doolittle drops consonants. All have tells, to the writer. I note who they embrace and who they shun, who they uplift and who they judge. How they treat the rich, the poor, the blessed or unfortunate, the young….the old, gay or straight…devout or atheist. All, I watch. What they ignore, what they engage with. The topics they bring up, their disapproving comments.

Never occurs to them that I may be just as much an assessor of worth. Why would it? Hubris has no bounds. I watch how they regard the orphan, the homeless, people of all colors. I pay attention to how they speak to women. And I get feedback from various sources. I observe, and I laugh, because to them, wealth and status are the be-all and end-all. Or perhaps it’s control that gets them off. These are the greatest motivators. They shift with the changing winds. To me, true freedom is a far greater prize than mere riches and social standing. So, I continue on my own path, unbothered by their scorn and their shallow judgments, secure in the knowledge that I pursue what matters most, and I enjoy endless laughs at the folly of society.