Have you ever felt pressure to ignore someone, laugh at something not funny, or walk past someone alone? In a society that finds entertainment viewing “fails,” I think adults often carry around left over adolescent views and pain. We are all human. We need to belong. (And, we do).
To refuse to recognize or befriend a “loser” or “misfit” you must believe there is such a thing.
Many people are easy to overlook because they are quiet, inactive, or otherwise don’t participate. Maybe they aren’t even there so they are easy not to miss. We don’t know much about them. They might come late, or leave early, or not share much about themselves. Maybe we don’t even remember their name. Maybe we never knew. They might not be looking, smelling, or acting in ways we enjoy being around. Maybe we can’t communicate with them literally or figuratively.
To avoid people entirely that we don’t automatically understand or enjoy is to miss out on what they can teach us. It is to miss out on their unique gifts and strengths that without digging deeper you may never see. It is to avoid an opportunity to stretch your friendship and your comfort zone.
Research has shown that we enjoy being in homogenous groups, but those groups don’t lead to the best decisions. Turns out we need diversity as much as each diverse person needs a friend.
To accept a “place” in a social hierarchy especially in a static or permanent way is to admit belief that such a structure exists. I reject this!
Of course there are people more and less successful in some ways. Some people are more powerful or stronger. Some have more money. Some have more family, more possessions, or more friends. But why do people insist that this changes their value? I don’t think it does.
Value to society. Can that be measured? I suppose anti-social behaviors, crimes, and harm can definitely weaken us. And, pro-social work, fairness, and compassionate service do contribute. I’m not suggesting that these things can’t be measured.
But what I am saying, for example, is that you can’t compare a person with cerebral palsy with a person that is a genius and say one is more valuable. How could you compare how many people derive purpose, challenge and inspiration from one vs the other? How can you measure the degree of impact?
So, in this one way, one friend is as good as another. They are both equally valuable–infinitely valuable. But they certainly are unique, irreplaceable, and priceless. No one else can be you, ever. The same goes for every other. So, no–no other friend is the same as another.
“Let your freak flag fly” is one way I have heard this pride in individuality proclaimed. I love the idea of you being you and me being me without fear. But, this attitude seems to be loud and almost obnoxious. I think all of us have at some point felt alone, rejected, misfit, or not good enough. We all have weaknesses. But, I also think we don’t have to brag and annoy people with our differences. We all have those, too.
We can not believe we are on top if we are humble. We can not believe we are on the bottom if we are honest, either.
We only see what we measure for, so what about all the ways we aren’t measuring? What about all the impacts on people and through time that we can not calculate?
There is something to learn from everyone (even bad examples).
There is something to give.
There is something to receive.
A priceless interchange if we are willing and able to make the leap.
Like a synapse jump across neurons that light up the brain. It can spark even if the contact is brief.