Monday, November 13, 2006

Our species was trained up on a certain brand of cooperation between individuals of clans or tribes, and so it remains to this day. At the core of our being is a need to be social, even for those who insist on being solitary or even anti-social.
I reckon that even those who hate other people so much as to act out in hurtful or even violent ways are acting on a hard-wired urge to interact, though on a dysfunctional level.
As a teacher of "at-risk" youth, I've watched a couple of generations of teenagers go through their phases of group-enabled and codified rebellion; the collective aspects of their deep will to seek antisocial pleasure with a bunch of friends is a wonder to behold. One can extend the strangeness of collective will from the small to the very largest group.
In our little town, the collective glue that welds the greater community together is the LDS church, both socially and religiously. Some are members of the church for only social and traditional reasons, much like any other religion. In my observation, those more secular reasons are at least as important as those spiritual and religious.
One who dedicates themself to the life of an active member of an LDS community is given over to much sacrifice and, at least on an outward level, service. Such a person teaches, works, collaborates, studys and worships together. They profess a common framework of beliefs and subject themselves to a mutual organization of authority. The social benefits of cleaving to the group are many and when one is unable for one reason or another to do so, the sanctions can be felt on many levels, some not readily observable or fully understandable.
Those sanctions and those who sanction are difficult to deal with. Nevertheless, as I ruminate on those who mete out the often subtle sanctions to those who stray from or resist subjugation to the church, I have a very rough time condemning them for their actions and attitudes. Their behavior stems from the same deep seated social inheritances that enable religious and other benevolent institutions. They don’t mean to be exclusive or mean, they are only attempting to conserve the finite social and real means of the collective for those who exhibit behavior befitting belief and membership. It’s truly difficult to love the enemy within the community; they are those who might waste the community trust.
It doesn’t make those who find themselves outside of the church feel much better, but it is likely how they act toward those within the church, in one way or another. The same instinct toward conserving the bulwarks of the church preserves those on the outside of the church, as well.
What can be done to bring us together? I don’t know. Logic extends this situation within our little burg to the greater problems in our nation and world. The same instincts that preserve our communities and hence, our species seem to condemn it to perpetual war and fervor or apathy toward those who would wage it. We only seek to preserve the stasis of permanence perceived within local and extended communities.

2 comments:

Lost Coyote said...

Insightful.

I can’t be part of society, LDS, greater, lesser, rural, etc. without feeling like I’ve lost my own self…

I’ll just continue to wander…

Ryan said...

I am still of the firm belief that religions divide and spirituality unites. We should not allow other men/women to dictate how, why and where we communicate with higher powers. The social climate created by the LDS church is one of the reasons I left Utah.

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