A month ago, my experiences online with social media sites led me to reconsider it as an outlet for finding my tribe. I contemplated leaving every group I was a part of, closing my facebook account entirely.
A week ago, I was almost certain I must. Instead of being places of refuge and harmony, my experience was that these groups were mostly places of arguments and negativity.
Today, as I feel compelled to share this, these are my observations. My concerns. My fears.
First- It starts with what seems to be our preoccupation with labels, our identities summed up in a term. Labels cause dissention. Sure they identify us but they also separate us. I have decided that I am comfortable with one label, one term only. And even that one, I’m not entirely sure. But for the sake of argument: HUMAN.
I have made the decision to remove some of those labels I previously associated with; those that just seem useless and that in my experience have the potential to cause dissention. When you read my bio online or meet me in person, I will not tell you that I am a vegan. I will not proclaim that I am staunch whole life unschooler. I would call myself an artist but aren’t we all? Creators of our own lives? It’s not that I am no longer those things, it’s that they are but a small part of who I am. There is no more point in telling you those things than sharing with you my sexual habits or religious orientation or my political views. Should you ask, I will share with you. But none of those things define me.
I am not a Caucasian, I am not a Christian, I am not a Vegan, I am not an Unschooler, I am not an Anarchist. I could rightfully be all of these things. Or none of them. But I do know this . . . It doesn’t matter.
“Hello, my name is Amber. I am a human being.”
And I long to connect with other human beings. I don’t care about your gender, race, religion, eating habits, etc. Finding your tribe means that you find others with whom you share similarities and like mind. In my case, I’ve discovered that is isn’t any longer about finding other hippies, natural parenters or vegans, it’s about being in the presence and also advocating the mindset that “we are all one” for that shared thought is the only culmination in a world of love and acceptance, a coming together rather than a separating out.
Vegan or Omnivore? Homeschooler or Public Schooler? Stay at Home Mom or Career Mom? Homosexual or Heterosexual? Bisexual? Bi-curious? Boy or Girl? Democrat or Republican? Liberal? Anarchist? Christian or Atheist? Agnostic?
Why do we care so much about defining who we are? And how important can it be if it only seems to separate us further from each other? Why do we feel such a need to find a side to stand on? As long as there’s that, there remains two sides (or five or ten or a million). What we need is to be on the same side.
And second- what I feel is even more concerning is the actual debating and berating that I’ve seen take place (mostly on the basis of our preoccupation with labels).
I sincerely question the validity of the term “healthy debate”. Is there really such a thing? I posed that question the other day on my facebook page and one person was willing to entertain the thought. Her experience said that there was. She had presented something and a response, the information provided actually changed both her viewpoint and her stand on the subject.
There were a few things I took note of in her sharing her story. The most pivotal of all was my rethinking of what it really means to debate. To me, I am glad to know that what she experienced sounded a lot more like a discussion rather than a debate.
The definition for debate is actually the following: contention in argument; strife, dissension, quarrelling, controversy.
Which is why I doubt there truly is such a thing as a healthy sort of debate. Healthy to me equates something soothing to the body and soul. I have never witnessed nor have I ever experienced an argument that did anything other than affect me emotionally in a negative way or stressed my body in a physical way.
There is far too much “strife, dissention, quarreling and controversy” happening these days.
I don’t just want to NOT be a part of it. I am determined to do all I can to avoid contributing to it. Maybe it’s just that I am no longer someone who is comfortable with confrontation. Maybe it’s a sign of a lack of confidence or courage. Maybe I’m just chicken. I don’t know if that’s part of it or all of it but I do know that I want to make others in my presence feel loved, validated, accepted. No labels, no dissention. Equality without judgement. We need to come together, not separate ourselves. We need to inspire each other. We need to acknowledge our strengths and encourage each other to simply keep on doing the best we can. We need to trust one another, rely on each other. How else are we ever going to survive this mess we’ve gotten ourselves into?
Our physical earth is dying right before us and it is up to us, as human beings, individuals in all shapes, sizes, colors, and orientations (none of that matters) to band together to save it. We, each of us, need to stop wasting time arguing over what needs to be done, or who is best in the position to do it. We need to be activists for our causes but we must find a way to inspire others without making them feel their contribution is not enough (or as good as perhaps you feel yours is). We need to support one another and help each other on our path.
We must lead with LOVE always! We are in this together. We are all we have!
As I come to the end of this post, I become aware that even in my efforts to promote “love over labels” I put myself in a position where I will, no doubt, be deemed self- righteous. In my attempt to end controversy, I explore certain realities that are seen as controversial. I risk putting myself on the high horse in promoting an existence where there are no “high horses”. That is my entire point, I guess. How is it we have found ourselves in this place where one can not even rally for being a place of equality, love and acceptance without that individual’s position or motives being questioned? It comes down to intention but you see, intention is a sneaky thing. No other person can ever fully see the authenticity in your intentions. We all are left at the mercy of others’ interpretations. I suppose I will risk it. I will hope that what is seen or felt is my true intention that we put aside our differences and learn to love one another unconditionally. I truly just want to see a world wherein Love will always win over Labels.