Friday, 17 March 2017

March 17, 2017 Chautauqua

Beth's Ponderings

   Because humans are social animals, we have a deep need to belong.  Whether it is in an ethnic group, a religious organization, a particular political party, a fitness club, a gang, a preferred customer club, a social cause, or any other possible group or organization.  It doesn’t really matter what the group is as long as it keeps us from feeling like we are alone, or worse, outsiders.  And, usually belonging to just one group isn’t enough, and before long, the group identity becomes our sole identity.

   The irony is that in order to “belong” and be a member of a particular grouping of people, we have to isolate and separate ourselves from other people.

   Because, at the end of the day, that is the purpose of any grouping of individuals - no matter how altruistic their motives, ideals and actions - to separate themselves from others in some way, to show how different they are from the mainstream, and to give its members a feeling that they are more special than non-members.

   As a society, we need to have cooperation between people, a pooling and sharing of resources, to enable us to accomplish more than we could possibly accomplish on our own.  It is not possible to thrive as an isolated individual.

   But, at the extreme end, a group’s good can get overshadowed by the need to prove that its members are better than others, or that it knows the only right way to accomplish something.  Usually what results is a splintering of the group into smaller groups, each vying for new members, which in turn leads to more people being excluded, which leads to more people craving to belong somehow.  And when people feel desperate to join a particular group, they aren’t always thinking straight, and are very susceptible to pressure from peers, or group leaders.

   While it would be so easy to say that we just need to get rid of the extreme groups, that won’t solve the problem.  Instead, we need to remind those around us what belonging really means.  After all...“Breathing is nature's way of saying we belong here. Otherwise we wouldn't be doing it!” - Ofosu Jones-Quartly


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