Brush with Humanity
To clarify…. I know I am a parent; a mother. In fact, I’ll correct that…. Yes, I am in fact a mother in relation to my children and I feel and act as such, but fundamentally I am a human first. I find that remembering and affirming this for myself allows me to let go of the constrictions of any kind of conditioning. It allows me a life more open and loving of myself and others.I am (insert role) or I am a me: a human beingIn language ‘I am’ is at the same time a precursor to describing a role we play in life, and also an existential statement of being alive. When it describes a role we play in life, the name of that role will have built into it (centuries of) subconscious beliefs and rules about what it is to play that role. Combined with ‘I am’ as an existential statement, you can see how this can constrict what you are able to live of your self. In communicating our roles in life through language, we inadvertently identify ourselves as being that role. They set our and others’ identity in stone.
On top of that, most of us have many different roles we play, and so a balancing act starts where we feel we are many different things. This compartmentalising into different roles can leave us without any real sense of our own centre. Life becomes complicated like it might be for a puppeteer with 5 puppets and only two hands. We are removed from our essential humanness into playing our roles. Generalisation of others de-humanises and objectifiesAnother way we move others away from their essential humanness is through generalisation. Simply put; when we quantify ourselves as ‘Us’ and others as ‘Them’, this allows for generalisation and objectification of a whole group of people. This allows us to say things about them in general. We do this because a general statement; purporting that something is a general fact, makes it sound ‘more true’. In fact, this generalisation and objectification allows ‘Us’ to express our opinions and our version of reality with its irks, angers, prejudices or fears without ‘Them’ being able to respond to that. It allows us to vent in some cases, self-righteous opinions and feelings without bearing the responsibility of hearing the other side and honouring people as individual beings.
A general group of human beings does not actually exist. It is possible to have groups of people that appear momentarily as a group because of certain aspects like nationality, gender, taste in music, age, pet-ownership etc. But look closer at any of these groups and it very quickly becomes clear that it is made up of individual human beings who are so much more than whatever aspect that places them in a collective.
The names and identities we project onto other individuals, groups and also onto ourselves do not for a real human being make. Let’s say I’m in the bank and have a complaint that I feel trepidation about making. It’s easier for me to project ‘Bank-Teller’ onto the person behind the partition to enable me to allow myself the expression of the powerless anger and frustration I feel. If I choose to see the bank-teller as a human-being it is a lot harder to express that anger and frustration. It actually forces me to choose my words carefully and hope and trust that we both are aiming for a positive outcome; hoping that the bank-teller in question will also choose to see me as a human being rather than just another customer.
I started writing this because as a human being in a female body, I often struggle with how to relate to human beings in a male body. I don’t think I need to explain the underlying convictions of centuries that exist in regard the differences and the relationship between men and women. It’s everywhere, just under the surface in every ‘mixed gender interaction’. There are endless and often polarising understandings, unwritten rules and expectations around being female and being male; let alone the taboos of feeling to be neither. And I’m not the first person to ask a) whether they are real, b) whether we need them and c) whether we can do without them. The answer of course depends then, on whom you ask.Well in this case I am asking myself:
a) whether they are real. I don’t think so frankly, as I have always experienced myself as gender neutral on the inside. I know that, in fact I am female, but have never felt that this necessarily extends all the way to the edges of who I am.b) whether we need them? I’d like to think not. In regard to love relationships, it is becoming more and more clear and accepted that love is love is love.c) whether we do without them? So to clarify the question…. Can we do without the understandings, unwritten rules and expectations around being male and female? Well, I think taking them less seriously; realising they’re not set in concrete or in our DNA might loosen the constrictions to explore a more natural way of being human. Already over the last 100 years the constrictions around social, cultural, religious, public and private gender identities have shifted and loosened and have allowed movement and migration between the social, cultural, public and private structures they held in place.
Love is Love
Just think of how both sexes have so much more freedom in how they express their own particular humanness; taking roles that once belonged firmly to the opposite sex. Furthermore, as human-beings we are evolving into a widening experience of what love is beyond arbitrary and unnatural constrictions. And of course, flowing from this is the no-brainer of the open-hearted naturalness of same-sex couples being married and being parents if they so choose.
The Encounter with Love
This movement of evolution obviously is like an earthquake to some, and a blessed watershed for others. Some like the former, will fight tooth and nail to keep the structure in place; yet even structures eventually crumble with time and use. To whom it is a blessing, it means freedom to explore being alive as the human being they are. It also means different experiences in relating to others; just as human beings. From my own experience, I know that relating as a human being to another human being is an encounter with life, a meeting of the deeper truth we both share of what it is to be alive in a body.
This is the encounter spirituality is made of, which in the past has been molded into stagnant religious doctrine. But it started with that encounter…