Thursday, August 11, 2011

Navigating the Human Experience

We are currently in a culture in America where we are discouraged to be ourselves and actually experience life.  What I mean is that there are continual influences that are aimed at convincing us we should be, do or feel something different than who we really are and what we really want for ourselves.

The best example of this I can think of this the constant barrage of advertising for prescription drugs to change our moods, when the actual fact is that despite any short-term benefit that an artificial substance may appear to have, they really rob us of living.  One of the best parts of life is getting to feel things and experience them, which include both the highs and lows and everthing in between.  Pain, suffering and loss is something that everyone has to go through, but if you're really living true to yourself then you will also experience, love, joy, excitement, nervousness, boredom, pride and exhiliration.

One of the ways we encounter these various emotions is by creating problems for ourselves, whether consciously or not.  It's the basis for all good stories, too; someone has a goal or ambition, but there are obstacles in the way.  We even create more problems sometimes in an effort to solve other ones, and this isn't always bad.  What counts is that you are truthful and honest with yourself about your intentions, and whether or not you are treating others in life the way you would want them to treat you in return.  If you are doing those things and working toward achieving those ambitions then the troublesome spots in life don't seem as bad and don't last as long, because the positive will always outweigh the negative, even though we go through difficult situations at times.

However, if you follow the mainstream media and believe the world is overshadowed with evil and tragedy, then of course you will feel bad more often.  We also become more susceptible to the marketing efforts of drug companies, believing that their latest pill is going to be the one to change all of that for you.

Another aspect of the drive to be something artificial is the celeb-centric false idolization of some famous people because of what they wear, what they look like or who they date.  Real celebrities and idols should have some positive impact on our lives, not make us feel worse for not having what they have.  True artists do what they do because they enjoy it, because it really is who they are, and because they feel they have something to communicate.  These people enhance our culture, and thankfully there are celebrities who are also true artists and even humanitarians as well.

While of course there is nothing wrong with wanting something more or better for yourself or your life, but those should be goals you are working on, not used against you as a constant reminder of something you aren't or don't have.

There are also other influences in groups that can have a negative effect on lives as well.  One example could be where a handful of school kids pick on one of their classmates simply because the leader of the group does, despite knowing for themselves it's not okay and feeling bad for doing so.  It's not just kids where this applies though, there are plenty of situations as adults in which this occurs as well.

One of the biggest is in the area of religion.  Sometimes people become convinced that the other person or group must be wrong or evil, despite the inner realization that it is not true, yet the divisiveness grows and becomes more solid.  Look at the Westboro Baptist Church scenario.  Despite their actions, I do not believe that all of the people in that congregation are bad.  I just feel that they fell victim to group agreement created by a leader who appears to be insane.

In addition to religions, we also see this among political parties and countries.  Individuals become so convinced that the others are bad and even go to war in some cases where the soldiers themselves don't really even know why they are there or what they are fighting for, other than that is what their leader says to do.

When we begin to criticize and judge others without really knowing them then we are actually creating our own enemies.  Only a very small number of people in this world are truly insane or evil, but when we begin to label others and create more divisions then we box ourselves in by doing so.  I know I've found myself doing that before and I am truly apologetic for judging people instead of simply allowing them to be who they are and accepting that they are not me.

We have to allow people to be themselves.  Sometimes this can be difficult due to the conditioning and influences in our lives, but we become less of our true selves every time we completely condemn another person.  I'm not saying to just allow everyont to have a free-for-all on anything and everything and not do anything about it, but what I am saying is that sometimes you just have to let people experience life just as you are willing to experience it yourself.  Sure, it's fine to have opinions and offer advice or try to reason with people in a conflict, but at the end of the day they are still entitled to be who they are.  People are inherently good-natured, and the more you validate their humanity then the more you will see and experience goodness in return.  Living by example isn't just a virtue, it is a natural law.

So please, try and see the beauty in things around you, even those things that are different and that you even find annoying.  If someone in your life is trying to influence you otherwise, it's okay to question why.  After all, the experiences in life are the reason for living.  I don't think it's an idealistic or Utopian concept, because this means accepting the conflicts as well and working through them, not the deletion of all problems.  The world wouldn't be any fun if we didn't have problems to solve, and artificially covering them up isn't going to work either.

We can improve those experiences simply by shifting our own viewpoint a bit, and then working toward the continued betterment of ourselves, our families, friends and associates, activities and workplaces as well as our environment.

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