Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What We Are Not

Okay, this has nothing to do with motherhood, which tends to be one of my main themes, but it was inspired by my last post.  Remember when I said that things are defined not just by what they are but also what they aren't?  Ever since, I've been wondering--what are the implications of that?  How deeply does that shape our world?

Though this could easily get political, I'm going to try to keep it neutral.  I could write an entire post alone about how I don't fall into any of the popular political categories, but I'll spare you unless it is requested by popular demand.  :)  But think about this for a moment: Could the us vs. them mentality sweeping the United States at the moment be a sign of a people who are so completely confused about how to define themselves that they can only do so by announcing vehemently what they aren't?  Is our country in a definition war?

This can be applied on a much smaller scale, which is probably a good idea if I want to avoid politics.  Think about high school--the jocks vs goths vs geeks vs whatever.  Think about the angry mom forum debates over things like breastfeeding and vaccinations.  It seems to me that a great deal of the arguing and attacks in such cases are really a way for insecure people to define themselves.  I actually touched on that a bit in one of my first posts (Motherhood: The New Competitive Sport).  What point is there in attacking another person's lifestyle choice except as a way to make yourself feel better because you are not that?

We must be honest when we ask ourselves--does that person's decision affect me?  No?  Then why do I feel the need to attack them for it?  If you are truly confident about yourself and have defined without doubt who you are, then there is no need to rant at a mom who chooses to feed her baby another way or to tease a fellow classmate who wears black.  Such teasing is a way to set yourself apart, to make it clear that you are not part of that group.  If the core of who you are can be changed by associating with someone different, then you need to take a look at how you have defined yourself. 

So what do you think?  Do you sometimes define yourself in such a way?


  1. OMG I love this post! You make such a great point! I've wondered this exact thing myself. I'm one of those people who could honestly care less about what other people are doing because I do what I believe is best for me and my family and that's really all that matters. So many people out there spend so much of their time putting others down, but in what way are their personal choices or opinions affecting you and your life? None, except for they just have a difference of opinion. And I think you hit the nail on the all revolves around insecurity. If you were truly confident in the decisions you are making,then I don't think there is any reason to attack anyone else for their choices. I'm going to have to share this one on my twitter, because I guarantee there are a lot of people who can either relate to this or argue the other side of it, which would be interesting for me to hear.

  2. Each of us naturally wish to be the best and we refuse to be wrong. Humility and compassion. These things need to be more expectable. Great post!

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  3. Great post!

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  4. I am SO with you on this. There is so much us vs them out there. It's maddening. But it does start at the top. We are a country divided, and that trickles down. It's sad that people need to defend their own actions by attacking others. If you feel comfortable with your decisions, it shouldn't matter what others are doing. Great post!

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