Monday, March 21, 2005

Ashamed of Belonging

There are times in our lives in which, for leisure or professional reasons, we join communities and/or groups (tightly or loosely led), online and/or off-line. And there are times in which belonging to such communities is a source of deep shame.

This happens whenever a member of such communities takes an either/or stand (Kierkegaard would be fond of such an aut-aut approach... but I am with Hegel, so I like the et-et one!).

Some examples...

In a beauty forum, the moderator (a little not balanced enough) censors positive comments on cosmetic brands that test on animals, valuing respect for animals more than respect for humans. In the same forum, the interest for beauty products goes along with prejudices and false myths, fuelling the "blonde" stereotype.

A professional category like Volunteer Management doesn't fly simply because it's (almost) all about "warm and fuzzy feelings", like Jayne Cravens defined them in her Topic of the Months at Merrill's, with no or few managerial skills, yet calling themselves "managers".

Among online professionals ("techies"), most are as intuitive, empathetic and warm as a piece of iron at the North Pole.

Then, my favourite topic, politics. I belong to a political side, the Left, whose interest in valuing people's feelings, fears and sentiments in general (save few spare enlightened persons here and there) is below zero. And when I come out and say which side I belong to, I am afraid of being taken for one of those rabid idealists willing to sacrifice anything and anybody to animals, plants, a sterile principle or anything else inanimated, trying to convert you to their own unrelenting self-punishments.

If I say "Hey I am Roman Catholic" I am afraid of being taken for those fanatics trying to impose their legitimate life choice onto others, forgetting how religion is an individual choice, or rabidly rallying against people needing a Mosque to pray "another G*d".

If I say I am Italian, I get ashamed of being exchanged for a fan of Oriana Fallaci's, whose shameful book is more full of hate and resentment toward Muslims, than 10,000 Osama speeches against Westerners. If the poor woman would get more concerned about improving herself (for example by accepting that feedback that she has been refusing for over 10 yrs -- she doesn't read what people think of her --- pooh oooh---- betraying a huge ego and its lack of capability to correct herself) and more loving toward humankind, she might get some chance to beat that cancer that is eating her alive (and that won't abandon her, since "similia similibus facillime congregantur", which equals to "birds of a feather flock together").

Even my belonginess to the bipolar legacy creates me some problems, cause very many of us use the illness as an excuse (and I did it myself!), "helped" in that by both the medical model ("it's all your genes' fault") and the sociological one ("it's all society's fault") to think "there is nothing I can do about it". WRONG.

So, how do I reconcile my respect for human freedom, for animal dignity, for people's feelings and for online communications? Sometimes it's really hard.

I don't want to "take a side" that is useless to be taken. I don't want to choose between a person and an animal. a Christian and a Muslim, an Italian and a citizen of another nation, a bipolar and a "normie", an animal over a plant, etc. I do have the guts to take a stand, but I won't take ANY stand that isn't needed to be taken. Why do I have to sacrifice one side over the other? It is just plain stupid.

Sometimes I am ashamed of being taken for one of "those", sometimes I am discouraged, sometimes I am just plain mad.

Like right now.

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