05 June, 2009

Finding Emmāus - The Very Human Need To Fit

I’m not sure just how much of children copying the styles of other children is peer pressure (something which is external) or how much of it stems from the innate human need for community (something which I see as internal). I think humans have universal needs - needs which would not be “universal” if they originated from an external source. Among those are the need for acceptance and community.

Humans are not solitary beings. We’re not like bumble bees. We’re social creatures, preferring the herd. Are there exceptions? Of course. Some of us live out our lives in seclusion, others want the comfort of knowing friends and family are near but still require “alone time” on a regular basis.

But in general, most of us want to feel as though we are a part of something bigger than ourselves: a family, a place of worship, a social network, a neighborhood…

So, back to my earlier statement about children mimicking the behavior of other children. I’m not all that convinced it’s a learned response. I think it’s more likely an internal - and very primal - need for attention, for security, for love. The youngest of infants have those needs. No way that’s born of societal pressure.

Children learn very quickly that the road to attention, security and love is paved with approval, beginning with Mom and never truly ending.

If I buy a dress like yours or move into the same neighborhood as you or start listening to the same music you listen to or start following the same sporting events you follow, I have just made a public declaration that what you have or what you are or what you like or what you do is worthy of imitation - the sincerest form of flattery, right? And if you, in return, give me the approval (aka love) I crave, then I have just become a part of something outside of me, a part of you, a part of a community and I am therefore no longer alone.

Conversely, without that, there’s a huge hole in me - sometimes big enough to drive a truck through.

If I’m different - if I’m an Empath or if I’m bipolar or if I’m a witch- then I don’t get to have that acceptance, that feeling of belonging, that security, because people will go out of their way to avoid me. I will become isolated. People shun me because they’re afraid or they don’t understand or they just don’t know how to handle my “different-ness”, my uniqueness.

When you get right down to it, no-one really wants other people to be that different from themselves. I think people would prefer that others fall in line with what they consider to be the norm because that’s their comfort level.

This is the foundation of “Finding Emmāus”: two Empaths in two different centuries dedicating their lives to the celebration of those differences and to putting an end to the isolation.

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