The majority of people on this planet live through ego. They feel that they are themselves special, apart from the crowd in some way, but they aren’t willing to acknowledge other people’s special-ness. They are threatened by the people who are different from them – but rather than seeking to understand another person’s point of view, condemn them.
The Different Clubs of Special-ness
There are many different ‘exclusive clubs’ which people belong to with pride. There are the:
- Nationality clubs
- Colour of skin clubs
- Rich, poor and in between clubs
- Political clubs
- Religious clubs
- Sexual orientation clubs
- Disability clubs
- Sickness clubs
- Sports clubs
- Creative arts clubs
- Intellectual and non-intellectual clubs
- Environmental clubs
- Animal rights clubs
- Food choice clubs
- Health choice clubs
And the list goes on! What many people fail to acknowledge is that there is in fact only one club
The Human Being club
Our diversity is what makes life interesting. I love watching people who dance or create music beautifully, draw out emotions through their acting skills, or are accomplished athletes. I also understand myself well enough to know that I don’t have enough passion for any of these things to make the sacrifices necessary to come close to their level of excellence. Back in my teens and 20s, I played the guitar and sang folk songs in public and was also immersed in amateur dramatics – in fact, I wanted to be a Shakespearean actress at the time. In hindsight, I realise that these pursuits weren’t my ultimate passion. I have friends who are athletes, dancers, singers and artists – each one of them has such a passion for their form of expression that, to them, it is as important as breathing. Though I might have had talent, I didn’t have the overwhelming passion necessary, and therefore I don’t belong in their clubs – I just get a glimpse inside the door through my friendships.
In most places around the world the creative arts club members are happily accepted and even sought after, and the ‘cream of the crop’ are showered with our admiration due to their superior skills. There are a few countries where creative expression is forbidden and the consequences are dire, but fortunately these are few and far between.
The Positive and Negative Effects of these Clubs
As mentioned above, the creative arts club members aren’t usually ostracised and many other clubs are willing to open their doors to these people and accept them as friends. However, not all clubs are created equal.
Many clubs give members of other clubs visitation rights! For instance, many of us nowadays have friends and colleagues of different nationalities, skin colour, religions, politics, sexual orientation etc. The mingling of the members of these clubs creates the platform for the Human Being club.
The problems really arise through the hard core members of any of these clubs. The self-righteous – the people that hate anyone who is different! Their intolerance is the major cause of the suffering in this world of ours. The clubs with the most money, power and influence, namely the political, religious and health choice clubs, can target these hard core members of their own and other clubs and manipulate and prod them into behaviour which has originated in fear based beliefs. Out of that another club is formed – the ‘I’m right and you’re wrong’ club.
Being a paid up member of any of these clubs can be extremely limiting. Some club memberships are obvious ie. I can’t pretend I’m not in the white English female club – the English I might get away with for a short time, but white and female definitely not!
Some people have a fear of being thrown out by other club members if they spread their wings and start to befriend members of other ‘not allowed/tolerated’ clubs. In truth, they could lose both their friends and family if they made that choice, so fear keeps them in a club which no longer fits them and restricts their learning and forward movement.
I am also in two minds about the ‘sickness’ clubs. I know that it is comforting to be in communication with other people who have the same illnesses, who can offer us support in our most difficult times and when we are in pain. However, I think a lot depends on the orientation of the specific club – whether it functions as a ‘pity party’, or is full of people who are genuinely trying to get better (and don’t believe it when they are told that they can’t) and are prepared to look outside the accepted medical practices to find a cure – whether it be through changing to a raw food diet, or trying homeopathy. If there is a sharing of information, with people reporting cures, then more power to them. However, if it just turns into a lot of people bemoaning their fate, then that closes the door on health – and, a question I often ask myself – what happens if a person in this club gets better – do they lose their membership?
Love, Tolerance and Understanding
Rather than trying to wipe the people that are different to us off the face of the earth, why can’t we just communicate and understand their point of view? In the grand scheme of things, despite what is typically reported, I believe that most people are peace loving and willing to make allowances for other’s beliefs. We just hear the news about the hard core extremists in these various groups and then we tend to have an unbalanced view of the world in general.
The populations of a lot of countries have become so fear based by what is happening in their individual lives, they actually vote for fear based leaders who are intent on leading them into war – they vote for people who are coming from a similar energy as their own. Therefore, people they think are the same as them. In fact, if any politician dares to mention peace or talk to ‘the enemy’ – they are either branded as weak or traitors, when in fact they are the ones who are trying to make our lives better. Somehow we are seeing ‘war talk’ as being strong and ‘peace talk’ as being weak. How strange is that!
I always remember my grandmother being really frightened when she heard that a black family was moving in next door. At that time in Bristol there were very few black families in the area and Nanna had only ever seen black people on television. Such were the times! A few months after the family had moved in, Nanna had nothing but praise for them. That winter had been extremely harsh with heavy snow falls and she told me that when the man next door was clearing his own front steps, he cleared hers too – nobody had ever done that for her before. He treated her like he would have treated his own mother. All it took was familiarity and a little communication and fear went out the window. Added to that, my closest friend at the time was Jamaican – so she had first-hand experience of our similarities, rather than our differences.
I believe that it is human nature to communicate and collaborate with people who are like us, but what a lot of people see as ‘like us’ is narrowed down to very superficial characteristics. I remember my Jamaican friend’s sister being most put out. She had been the only black woman in her company and then another black woman was employed. They were automatically put to work together because they were both black and obviously had a lot in common – so thought the employer! The truth was that they had nothing in common, didn’t come from the same country and actively disliked each other. It’s always a mistake to assume anything on a purely superficial basis.
I consider myself very fortunate to have had an open minded father, who could look beyond the superficial and see the person inside. I remember when he invited a stranger into the house, who turned out to be the local tramp. What Dad had seen was this man’s camera, and saw beyond the poverty and homelessness, to the photographer inside. They had a great conversation about photography.
I have many friends who are members of a variety of the above mentioned clubs and each one of them has taught me so much about different cultures and life styles, and have enriched my life in the process. I encourage anyone to strike up a conversation with someone who doesn’t look like them – you might be surprised at exactly how much you have in common!