I’m wondering if the “us versus them” divisions are always bad and if not when is it good to discriminate?
If I feel a sense of belonging with a group of people, doesn’t it imply there’s other people who I don’t feel that same sense of belonging with?
What if it’s there’s more to discrimination?
Trust starts by having an association with others whose values reflect our own and better relationships are built on trust. Our identity forms by having clear boundaries between what’s safe and not – inside those boundaries we can increase confidence to explore further outwards. As a result of feeling safe to explore, our boundaries extend and our acceptance of difference extends too. The point is, it begins with discrimination. We need to discriminate enough to even decide what we value and what we don’t, otherwise – what basis do we have to gauge who and how to accept anyone else?
So clear values are important if we really want to accept different cultures and people into our lives. Clear values implies being able to discriminate good from bad values.
But what if people’s values become too rigid to the point we can’t account for any difference at all either?
In this case, when we encounter people different from us, which is inevitable, they become a threat. It’s worse when two or more groups with different sets of rigid value systems confront each other. There has to be a clash, the more rigid the value systems are, the more violent that clash will be.
When our sense of identity is completely tied to a rigid set value systems, the stakes are just too insurmountable not to clash. It’s life and death because one’s identity equals his/her life and taking it away is comparable with death.
This can only happen when we don’t really feel safe inside the boundaries we identify with. When its unstable at the core, we’re often led to create a more idealized version of where we’ve come from and how we identify ourselves. This is done to compensate for the instability. When we do that, we’re left easily taken in by ideology.
But what if we didn’t come from a stable upbringing or if we rarely experienced a real sense of belonging and acceptance to begin with, at least not often enough?
When that’s the case, as it is for most of us to different degrees, it will be very difficult to explore out into our own emotional unknowns. When we can’t do that, we can’t be truly accepting of ourselves or others in a full sense. Its going to be extraordinarily difficult for us to emotionally grow too when we come from this place.
When we don’t grow its a big problem. An essential principle of living is continuous movement and growth, so when parts of us are stagnant, those parts are left behind and we become internally fragmented. Emotional or psychological fragmentation is a prerequisite for mental illness as well as physical illness.
What the hell can we do then?
Its important we examine in ourselves where our own values are not clear enough or too rigid for us to grow. We have to do that otherwise we’re either going to remain totally lost or else caught in the black and white world of ideology giving us simple and highly inflexible answers to all our questions. If we do nothing else, over a long stretch of time, it’s very likely our lives will fluctuate between the two poles I just described – crisis point to crisis point. When we fall into these traps, often unbeknownst to ourselves, we escalate our own and human suffering in a major way. For me that’s scary!
How can we do that in this crazy world, it’s hard enough just to get by?
I see the answer comes when embarking on our own personal hero journey, even baby steps at first count immeasurably. The only way to do this is to start or continue to grow a personal relationship with your own higher power. This isn’t necessarily a religious one, it’s more a connection we discover on our own.
Why do we need some God that I don’t even know or might never know is even real?
Short answer is we dont. But it’s worth it. It’s resloves the contradiction.
The value is that our sense of belonging, care and source of nurturing comes with us all the time and becomes stronger when we continue to seek for this connection in whatever capacity we can manage. From here it’s easier to venture outwards into the unknown – its as practical as that.
As we grow more confident, those baby steps we first took become teenage steps and soon enough we’re fearlessly taking adult steps into the darkest cave, on the darkest night (but not all alone).
That’s when we really begin to transform our lives and bring the wealth of that transformation back into the world – those new reconciling values that brings resolution to the clash and unwinds human suffering.
For me, that’s the main reason for seeking God. For what it’s worth its the clearest answer to the contradiction I just laid out that I can come up with. The clearest one I can figure out for now.