Unique, just like everyone else

Hi there.

As promised, I plan on digging into the morass of issues I surfaced two entries ago with the story of the young girl I saw crying.  As I mentioned, these issues are so complex and emotionally charged that I feel like a fly on an elephant’s butt.  But… here goes.

To begin to bring some sense to the enormity of the dynamics at play I personally have to make issues as basic and simple as possible.  I feel that if I can begin wrap my arms around the fundamental core concepts then I can move out from the center and tackle the more specific dicey situations.

The path I plan on taking is to start with identifying some basic principles of individual human nature.  After which I will attempt to apply these principles to society and our world in general and then from these lofty heights nose dive directly to the crying girl.  Whew! (Oh my, what have I gotten myself into?!!)

Human Nature

It’s interesting to me to find that people are so very different yet fundamentally very much the same.

It is said that variety is the spice of life.  I agree totally.  Life is a joyous adventure because people have different interests, talents, and personalities manifested in the staggering variety of music, entertainment, decor, foods, styles, humor, etc.

Principle # 1:  People are Different

(I know, I know… duh?  I didn’t say I would be profound in these writings.  But I do believe there is profoundness in simple truths.)

As you already know… I believe variety is a good thing, in fact a great thing.  I also believe this is a God thing.

God is a God of variety and creativity and we all possess this divine DNA in our nature.  To suppress this is to suppress something holy and good.

Christian Alert: I will be sharing some of my beliefs that are founded in my faith.  I am in no way trying to make you believe what I believe.

I do think that although we may look at it from different vantage points and use different terminology, we will find that on the whole we are on common philosophical ground.  What I’m asking is that you not automatically or arbitrarily discount what I am saying because of my faith.  Thanks.

I believe that we must encourage individual exploration of one’s unique mix of tastes and talents to find who we are and what God intended us to be.  But I have a warning.  This, like every other principle, is a double edged sword.  This will become more evident as we peel the layers.

Everyone is ok with this exploration and variety thing as long as we are playing in the same sandbox of likes and dislikes, tastes, and beliefs.

It starts to get messy when importance or worth is assigned to the different variations of things to explore.  What follows are value judgments as to the worthiness and acceptability of different things.

I believe judgment starts with the seemingly benign assignment of “good” to things that match our tastes and “bad” to those things that don’t fit our thinking.

Important Note:  Be careful not to jump ahead of me.  I am still talking about very mundane simple differences in opinions and tastes.  We haven’t even dipped our toe into the dark swift choppy waters of morals and values.

The more we like something or dislike something the more value we assign.  If not careful, this increasing intensity of the opinion pierces the veil that separates the object from the person.  The value we hold toward the object is then assigned the individual.

Some examples:

  1. A person hates NASCAR and thinks that it is a stupid sport.  Therefore people who like and attend NASCAR are stupid rednecks.
  2. Opera is silly highbrow music.  Therefore opera goers are elite snobs.
  3. Pittsburg is an obnoxious ignorant town.  Therefore Steelers fans are obnoxious and ignorant.

I’m sure you see absurdity of the first two statements.

Now, now Steelers fans don’t get your panties in a wad.  I’m sure there is a nice fan out there… somewhere.

OK, back to business.  This natural migration of likes and dislikes to “good” and “bad” enters a darker realm if not stopped.  The unhalted progression evolves into an issue of right and wrong.

This is when things get really messy.

Right and wrong elevates the significance of something.  We have now moved the issue from the head to the heart because now it has become a value.

The rub comes when people assign the weight of right and wrong to something that is neither… just different.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some things that are definitely WRONG.

This is the crux of the matter.

Our lives, family, community, and society become very unstable when fundamental beliefs about what is right and wrong differ.

This is where we need to dig a little deeper next Monday.


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