"I think I have finally worked out what you were trying to tell me, years ago, about being intelligent," she said.
The Constable brightened all at once. "Pleased to hear it."
"The Vickys have an elaborate code of morals and conduct. It grew out of the moral squalor of an earlier generation, just as the original Victorians were preceded by the Georgians and the Regency. The old guard believe in that code because they came to it the hard way. They raise their children to believe in that code--but their children believe it for entirely different reasons."
"They believe it," the Constable said, "because they have been indoctrinated to believe it."
"Yes. Some of them never challenge it--they grow up to be small-minded people, who can tell you what they believe but not why they believe it. Others become disillusioned by the hypocrisy of the society and rebel--as did Elizabeth Finkle-McGraw."
"Which path do you intend to take, Nell?" said the Constable, sounding very interested. "Conformity or rebellion?"
"Neither one. Both ways are simple-minded--they are only for people who cannot cope with contradiction and ambiguity."
From The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson. (Page 355-356 of my Bantam Paperback)