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Moving from Your Center

photo credit: diego rosa on unsplash

Our human tendencies

express themselves differently across cultures.

Take away the culture and we are all still human.

The thread is being human.

Some human behaviors are more pronounced in certain cultures than in others. The expressions may vary. Take away how they're expressed and the thought and line of reasoning is the same.

The thread is the idea behind the behavior.

When I was growing up,

for example, peer pressure wasn't so much an issue for me as was the Middle Eastern concept of family honor within the Chaldean community. Chaldeans are Christian Catholics from Northern Iraq and a large and growing population has been living in Metro-Detroit since the 70's.

Chaldeans teach each other to behave a certain way, to be cautious about what you do, not for the sake of living a good life, but for the sake of preventing gossip. The fear of "what people would say" policed moral behavior.

What would they say.... if we did this or that. If we didn't act Chaldean enough, what would they think? How would you be viewed? How would that reflect me? What will your future be like if you act in such and such a way? What about mine?

Family honor

was the issue, and each individual represented their family unit. So each individual was coerced, covertly or overtly, into believing that they would either tarnish or uphold family honor.

Individual morality,

in this way, comes from the outside. It is not true virtue, it is not honest action. Behavior, in this way, is not coming from the center of the individual. The individual is not thinking and acting according to what is felt to be right, good, and true. "Good" behavior is being handed, spoon-fed to, and more like pushed onto the individual.

Peer pressure

comes from the same idea. Desirable behavior is being pushed onto an individual. It's a social game that encourages togetherness through likeness, like a family unit does. If a non-drinker goes to a party where everyone is drinking, the non-drinker is fighting a strong force when not drinking with the rest. That force is the "pressure," which can be subtle or obvious, covert or overt, invisible or visible. Drinkers may ask the non-drinker why they aren't drinking and will offer again and again. It's like a double checking: "Are you sure you aren't like me?"

In an immature setting, not drinking alcohol will invite harsh judgment. Peer pressure is turned up, the force can be fairly strong. Choosing not to drink - making this individual choice - is hard for friends to respect. "What does this choice say about me?" Everyone's thinking it, whether they know it or not.

Friendship honor

is the issue, and each individual reflects the friendship unit. Not following the group's guidelines is seen as an insult and assault. Doing something different is not honoring the friendship unit that seeks 'likeness' as the determining factor of cohesion.

Friendship is often about knowing that you have a lot in common. So is culture.

Growing up, I saw that Chaldeans wanted to be sure that every Chaldean acted Chaldean -

"like me."

Friends want to be sure that every friend acts like a friend -

"like me."

Female honor,

in many cultures, says women wear makeup. Why do women wear makeup? There is a pressure underlying - it says "If a woman doesn't wear makeup, she doesn't care about herself."

And yet, to me, the individual, it means: "I am embracing nature, which is myself." My individual idea is different than the larger widely accepted idea. This means I'm thinking from my center. If I keep wearing makeup though I would rather not, however, I'm thinking from my center but not acting from it. When I realized that I was doing this, I stopped wearing makeup altogether.

Facebook honor,

teaches us to act like this or that, based on how many "likes" we receive. Okay, this kind of post didn't get any likes, so what will? How about this? How about this? How about this? Okay, I'll act like this.

And yet, there's a secret code underneath it all that determines whether or not people will even see a post. On one side it appears that no one likes a post because they actually didn't like it. On the other side, it may be the case that algorithms didn't even show the post to people at all.

One friend said that one thing is clear, when you post a "selfie," the algorithm is to spread it across friends' feeds, and it spreads quick. "Selfies" have become a big joke - yet, it's just people realizing which of their posts will get the most exposure. If original poetry was programmed to be seen first, the world would be very different.

Still, the underlying notions beneath all the social media run along the same human tendencies. "Are you like me?" That's what "like" means, as I see it, on these interfaces. Not "I like this," but "You are like me. We like the same things."

I defer to the heart mostly, and in that I'm saying "I love you. My heart is with you."

Family unit - Friendship unit - Cultural unit - Societal unit.

It's all the same, just different scales.

The solution,

for me, is to be willing to appear many ways to many people. Whatever that means, so be it. I am an individual unit within many larger units, and the human unit living within a larger spiritual unity is what I care about most. The graphics here spell out what I think I mean. I created two versions because I loved both pictures. All the words are the same. And I hope they say what I wanted to say in the first place.

All the Love,


photo credit: eugenia maximo on unsplash

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