863. Do social customs often force people to follow one road rather than another, and is their choice of occupation often controlled by the opinion of those around them? Is the feeling that leads us to attach a certain amount of importance to the opinions of others an obstacle to exercising our free will?
“Social traditions and customs are established by human beings and not by God. If people submit to them it is because they want to and their submission is an act of their free will. If they wanted to free themselves from those customs, they could do so. Then why do they complain? They should blame their pride rather than social customs, because pride makes them prefer to starve rather than stray from what they consider to be their dignity. Nobody thanks them for this sacrifice, though God would take note of the sacrifice of their vanity. We are not saying that you should resist public opinion or customs, as in the case of some people who are more eccentric than philosophical. It is just as absurd to allow others to point or stare at you like a curious animal, as there is wisdom in voluntarily descending when you are unable to stay at the top of the ladder.”