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Need to Belong

In Need to belong on November 9, 2009 at 3:09 pm

The other night during our blogtalk radio broadcast, we found ourselves discussing in depth the huge divide between the left and right-wing ideologies. After the show, our caller, Robi asked us to consider and weigh on a think first, feel later philosophy.

“We form emotional attachments that get wrapped up in our personal identity and sense of morality, irrespective of the facts of the matter. “

I thought about what he said for a few days. Over the weekend, I actually had the opportunity to meet Cara IN PERSON (very exciting!), and the 6 hour drive to and from NYC gave me lots of thinking time.

Our society in general is completely fragmented; gone are the days of three television stations, now there are over 100.  Free agency has decimated hometown sports teams, so we can root for a team one season at best.  Families relocate with great frequency. As our respective worlds grow increasingly complicated, we try to find a rallying cry, a place of identity.

Enter a two-party political system. One of the few entities in our nation that offers primarily only two choices. In our quest to fulfill our hierarchy of needs, we latch onto one system or the other. I identified early in life with the liberal school of thought. I grew up on an organic vegetable farm,  my first job was a union one, and I’ve had lifelong churching, which focused on loving my fellow-man and giving to the poor. For me that adds to a liberal viewpoint.  I am a liberal, and I say that with absolute confidence.

The funny thing is, over the years, I realize my views are not 100% black and white. If I admit that too often it would erode the identity I’ve forged for myself. I would no longer feel that same sense of belonging.  I would have to do something like describe myself as a center-left moderate social libertarian & a non-interventionist and culturally liberal  and the quiz even said so.  Liberal is more concise and identifiable.

I am certain my conservative friends can explain just as easily why they are conservative and hold their views just as dearly as I do. The reasoning behind this is both psychological and spiritual. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs addressed the deep need to belong from a psychological perspective.  The Bible addresses our need to belong and have fellowship.

Our need to belong is what drives our adherence to our liberal or conservative values. It would be nice if we could expand our need to belong to “the USA” and “human race”, then we could really keep this dialogue going.

My question for our readers today, how do you define yourself? Conservative or liberal? Why do you define yourself as such and are you ready to define yourself in bigger parameters? Can we truly belong to this one big nation and humanity?

from Robi, a study that supports our adherence to strong beliefs: Study Demonstrates How We Support Our False Beliefs

  1. I consider myself a liberal and a progressive. My conservative friends have taught me a great deal about the importance of personal responsibility, however, I value community more than I do the individual. I think that’s probably what puts me in the liberal camp more than anything else. My faith also requires this of me, although plenty of folks call themselves Christians who prize the individual above all else.

    Don’t you just love how Christianity can be lived so differently among its tribe?

    I’ve found that lots of folks tend to adhere to party lines without actually knowing what those party lines are. My liberal and conservative friends both have cheered rhetoric, but when you ask them what the actual party platform is for their respective allegiances (or the details of pieces of legislation or how the politician they’re supporting voted), they can’t tell you. I’ve seen more than one person switch teams after investigating and learning what’s *really* going on beyond the blabbering of politicians. If more people investigated instead of following the herd and/or allowing a good speech to influence them (independent, critical thought, people!), I suspect we’d see a lot more folks changing their minds about how they define themselves. And no, I don’t think they would all become liberals. ha! 🙂

  2. I’m ‘Me’…period. I don’t care to attempt to fit into predefined ( without my input, no less) pidgeonholes in an attempt to belong. Efforts by others to do this ‘favor’ for me are typically stymied by a few questions requiring an attention to detail ‘would be labelers’ find discomforting.
    How clever, right ? Can’t say I ever set out to come to these conclusions. They are a direct result of NOT fitting in. I was born mixed in a black and white society; black to the whites, white to the blacks- different. I learned early and often of the power associated with self identity. I hated the learning process but find myself cherishing the results on an increasing basis the older I get and the more I see.
    Mom taught me long ago that I’m not a citizen not of Cleveland, or of Ohio, or of even the United States. She taught me that I’m a citizen of ‘the world’. It took me about twenty or so years to fully understand, but I’m glad I do. So, in a word: yes. Yes we can ‘truly belong to this one big nation and humanity.’
    Because, regardless of whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, we already do.

  3. I have no doubt about being a conservative. I am so politically, economically, and religiously. I guess that puts me on the “do-not-invite” list of parties but I’ll survive. I learned very early the essence of personal responsibility and accountability. I am married to a woman who, had she been raised a liberal, would likely never have survived. She is tougher than nails on the one hand and softer than ‘Snuggles’ on the other.

    Interestingly, I can remove the comments here from the political arena and still observe an enormous difference between the two sides. On the religious front, I sometimes use the true analogy of my visit to a popular church with my daughter to witness a blessing of her friend’s baby. The edifice was beautiful. The people wonderfully friendly, the music glorious and the pews full.
    I noticed during the service, as I perused the hymnal and as I listened to the message, that ALL reference to God had been removed. My daughter’s comment after the service was on point. These are really nice people but they have become so “diverse in their beliefs” that they really believe in nothing. She was dead on. For me, the Bible tells us to love one another but it also sets some rules. Look a bit deeper and it tells of consequences as well.

    Now, having said these things, it should be noted that as a conservative, I have held my nose in the last several elections to cast a vote for the individual who hopefully would do the LEAST damage. In fact, I voted for a democrat governer because I believe him to be a better man.

    I see some churches of the day being stressed much the same way as the political arena. In my view, there ARE rules to abide by. Every one of us cannot have our own way. There actually exists evil in this world. I certainly would never profess to have all the answers.

    • Thank you Hawken, for weighing in. I think this dialogue and what you bring to it is exactly why we have started this forum. To soften our opinions of each other because we ARE people of faith. To show compassion, not disdain, for the “other view”.

      I would like to counter what you say, speaking as a “liberal”, that I believe in much and especially God. I feel nothing about my faith has been diluted. I also believe strongly in personal responsiblity and accountablity. In fact, I believe I am charged to demonstrate as much to those who do not have the same views, and lead by compassion and example.

      I think we can clear up many of the misconceptions we have about each other by keeping respectful and open dialogue. The other night, during our radio interview (such a different and immediate dynamic!) we all agreed, we love our nation. We don’t want to be irresponsible. We love America. We love the blessings we have here. Now, how do we move forward? By talking and loving. This is where we start.

      Thank you so much for sharing. Looking forward to seeing you back here again.

  4. Hawken,
    “The Bible tells us to love one another but it also sets some rules. Look a bit deeper and it tells of consequences as well.”
    Great motivator, not so great in terms of love and understanding.
    Whatever makes you comfy, truly. Just so long you aren’t oppressing anyone with your beliefs you can pray to a Honda Prius (tangible proof of evil in my book ;).
    A word on behalf of those of us who view the bible / Christianity / Islam/ ad infinitum, ad nausea with suspicion…. Beware the dehumanization groups/gangs revel in. Do take care not too get too drunk on belonging to a large group that has ‘rules and consequences’. Even a cursory examination of world religions reveals a commonality of values and the reality that personal religious beliefs are more a function of birth zip code than anything else. You’d have been a great Sunni had you been born in Balad, or a devout Hindu had you been born in Mumbai. It would be a shame for you to profane your beliefs for little more than the sake of brand recognition.
    It truly takes ALL types…..

  5. Robi;

    “Fear”? Indeed, a great motivator for many. “Promise”, I would hope, perhaps a better motivator and certainly what motivates me.

    Suspicious of “organized religion”? I could not agree with you more. I share much of the same suspicion. Anytime anyone from any religion professes to “have” the answers, I admit to stepping back. I believe, as a Christian, the truth is there for each and every one of us to find. No where in scripture are we instructed that we are to be Judged upon our associations. Each of us must come to that bar on our own. The promises are in the Bible. James 1:5, “if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God…”.

    It truly does take all types and I do not believe that all will find the truth in this life. I will not accept that the loving God who created all of us and this, would simply annihilate anyone who does not join XYZ Temple, or “The First Church on The Left” in anytown USA.

    Me? A Hindu? I’m not certain that would ever be a fit. I have difficulty getting used to the spice food. Now a Sunni?, that I could understand. I kinda like the desert and I am rather fond of dates.

    Yeah, I would say pretty much All types…

  6. Hawken,
    Promise ?
    Be good and you’ll be rewarded in the end, that type of promise ? Again, so long as you aren’t hurting anyone, good on you. In fact, it sounds as if that fallacy could wind up helping quite a few folks. Good stuff, we REALLY need that ! I’ve seen lots of good done for no other reason than it being ‘the right thing to do’. Rewards have run the gamut, ranging from mere ridicule to painful death. I guess the whole promise thing just doesn’t do it for me.

    Then you state your suspicion of organized religion, and folks who have the answers. That seems to clash with ‘promise’. Please clarify.

    “It truly does take all types and I do not believe that all will find the truth in this life. I will not accept that the loving God who created all of us and this, would simply annihilate anyone who does not join XYZ Temple, or “The First Church on The Left” in anytown USA.”
    “My daughter’s comment after the service was on point. These are really nice people but they have become so “diverse in their beliefs” that they really believe in nothing. She was dead on.”

    Huh ?
    Which one, please ?

    I think flatter yourself in thinking that you’d, somehow, remain unaffected by the environment you were born into and surrounded by. It do happen, though, so who knows. That you equate spicy food with Hinduism and desert life and an affinity for dates with being a devout Sunni says quite a bit as well. Does this mean if I like Staduim mustard and brats I, too, can be a righteous Christian ? (I do, btw 😉

    Standing by…..

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