Growing up, I was taught the value of getting along with others. Moving into adulthood, I learned that building good relationships is a crucial ingredient for success and long-term happiness. Getting along with others shows respect and care, and also increases the chances that others will treat you the same way.
One lesson I was not taught was to go along just to get along. I have never been a person who cuddled other people’s emotions in order to satisfy their implacable need for approval and infantile desire to be liked.
I will not laugh because everyone else is laughing at Jim’s 1,000th failed attempt at humor. I will not wear red because Derek thinks wearing red honors some social cause to which he says I ought to subscribe. Sitting by myself during lunch does not make me antisocial or unfriendly. It just might mean that I prefer being alone.
Unfortunately, we live in a society that embraces the idea that if a person does not conform to groupthink and group identity, that individual should be treated as a pariah and “a problem to be dealt with.”
Reflecting on my childhood, I remember the satisfaction and joy I experienced whenever I would venture left when others were going right. It is not that I was a contrarian (I kinda was); there just had to be a compelling reason for me to do what others thought I should do or how I should behave.
I recall being at my daughters’ JHS basketball game and sitting during the national anthem…in a gun-totting, bible carrying suburb. The hostile or contemptuous looks made me a bit nervous. Still, for the most part, I found these folks patriotic self-aggrandizement more hilarious than frightening.
Should we play nicely with others? Yes. Positive social interaction is a necessary part of human evolution. Bonding and forming good experiences (i.e., playing nicely) is how we have managed to survive and thrive as a species. Playing nicely, however, should not be the reason one gains entry into or becomes accepted by a group.
I should not have to conform to your ideology or become you to be accepted.
What are your thoughts? I would love to hear from you.