Love and acceptance

Social interaction is very important to humans.  We form social clubs, fraternities, sororities, organizations, churches, and special interest groups.  We want to connect with other people in meaningful ways.  We want to know that there are others "like us" out there somewhere.  What is so dreadful about the thought of loneliness?  What is so fearful about the idea that perhaps one is alone in the world.  "Am I the only one that feels this way?", "No one knows what I'm going through.", "How could anyone be as ______ as me?", "What if I'm just different?" are some of the questions that float through people's minds--perhaps subconsciously.

What is the purpose of blogging--more specifically, of this blog?  Why do I share my feelings?  Because I want to know that someone out there hears what I'm saying, understands it, and can express that empathy to me.  I want to know that I'm not alone in my thoughts and feelings.  Why is this so important to me?  Why does it matter whether anyone else understands me?  If a person adopts this mentality--that they do not need to concern themselves with the thoughts of others--then they are perceived as cold and unfeeling and this is a negative thing.  Being a hermit--disconnected from society--is usually viewed in a dim light.  Why is this?

There are many appetites of these bodies that we inhabit.  There is the appetite for food.  We satiate this appetite by eating.  Failure to do so would result in starvation, eventually causing death.  Therefore, the benefits of satisfying this appetite are immediately apparent.  We eat to stay alive (and for many other reasons, including the joy of good-tasting food and also social reasons--oh, there's that word again).  We have appetites for engaging in sexual activities with others or solitarily.  Failure to satiate these appetites may not cause death, as in the case of hunger, but they have been to shown, in at least some cases, to cause psychological complications.  Just as the digestive system complains when it does not receive food at regular intervals, the psyche complains when its appetites are not met.  It would appear that the need to connect with other people (to socialize) is one of these appetites.  And I believe that failure to satiate this appetite has, in many cases, led to insanity.

So, is it merely a host of chemicals coursing through the space in our heads that causes this need to interact with other people?  Perhaps.  But, it is quite apparent that the need is there.  Why, then, do people form exclusive clubs, casting out a certain class of people or perhaps all but one specific class or group of people?  I suppose, the question could also be asked, why does a child--out of a desire for attention from his parents--act out in ways that he knows the parent will respond to negatively?  I suppose the child figures that even negative attention is better than no attention at all.  To be ignored is perhaps to be perceived as non-existent altogether, and the concept of non-existence (or, similarly, the thought that death is the end of existence) seems to be a rather fearsome one.  So, to have his existence acknowledged, the child will misbehave to get attention.  So, why will a person refuse social interaction with another person?  Perhaps because that which is unattainable is more desirable, so that in refusing membership of some club to a person, the amount of social interaction with that person increases, as they attempt to become a member of this club.

Many are the reasons for this exclusivity.  Perhaps fear of the unknown.  Maybe the drive to find other people like oneself is so strong that one will build up walls casting out any who he perceives to be different in some particular way.  This has been seen in the instance of racism.  One race perceives another as different--a difference significant enough to merit an actual ban on certain kinds of interactions between those two races.  Perhaps it is just tradition.  One race has disliked another for so long that the actual cause of the dislike/disdain is unknown, but each generation is taught by its predecessors that they are to refrain from mingling with the other race--Dr. Seuss' famous butter battle.

To avoid getting too far off on that tangent, let me return to the topic at hand.  There is so much evidence of people wanting to "fit in"; be accepted; be perceived as "normal",  of worth, and valid.  The PR department of the LDS church launched a campaign a while back in the effort of helping people realize that Mormons are just everyday, normal people, not the extreme, fanatical cultist people that some rumors might suggest.  Homosexual people lobby for the right to marry--to use the word "marriage", not just "civil union" or "domestic partnership"--partly in the attempt to achieve equal social recognition.  Women are not oppressed nearly as much as they have been in the past, but they are still on the campaign of proving to employers that they can be just as valuable as men in many positions, and in some cases much more valuable than men.  So, it seems that there is a continual battle between all these prejudices--racism, sexism, heterosexism, religious intolerance, etc--and the desire to be loved and accepted.  I don't suppose I'll live to see the day when, at least as a society, we get this right and just love and accept people rather than cast them aside, but I do have hope that such a day will come.  Eventually humans will evolve past the stage of jealousy and prejudice.

I love loving people.  I love accepting people, and not merely overlooking differences, but celebrating them.  I don't do this nearly as well nor as often as I would like, but the few times when I am successful at doing so, it makes me truly happy.  I love my family.  I love my friends.  I love people with differing religious beliefs.  I love people with different moral compasses.  I do find it very difficult to love people that spread hate, but such people are the extreme exception, so they are, for the most part, very easy to avoid.