Embracing Differences Vs. Setting Boundaries

We live in an interesting time when previously taboo subjects are discussed in the open, old norms are questioned, and people are actively exploring what is and is not OK. What has been considered “moral” is laying on a chopping block, while the masses pass the butcher knife – fighting over what we can and cannot  embrace.

As a culture, we are engaging in a process to discover what we embrace and what we reject, and it is messy. However, we also explore the same questions on a personal level every day and in the context of our own lives. We are in the thick of learning who we are and who we are not as individuals, communities, and nations. We are not yet cohesive enough to be asking who we are as a planet, but I believe that time will come.

My husband had a great definition for boundaries “Here’s my line. If you don’t cross it, we’re cool.” What is fascinating to me is that “the line” is often blurry and can shift for many of us who are learning to integrate more and more that is being unveiled. The complexity of our world, our struggles to get our basic needs met, who and how we love, even where it is OK for us to go to the bathroom, are swirling around us.

Some call themselves “conservatives,” which they equate to an unwavering moral compass. This approach may work in communities where time was frozen – those who can conform, stay. However, the rest of the world is changing rapidly: people are wrestling with human rights at an escalated pace, thereby pushing for redefinition of what it means to be human and embraced by society.

Does free speech include promoting nationalism and racism? Is carrying a pregnancy to term a righteous requirement, or does a woman have rights over her body and deciding when she is ready to be a parent in a world of controlled resources and limited opportunities? Is it OK for us to claim the land of another people and reduce them to, basically, noncitizens? Is it OK for different religions to coexist in the same towns, cities, and countries without experiencing blatant or more passive harassment? Is it OK for a person to be homosexual, bisexual, asexual, or transgender and be embraced for who they are? What does how women dress have to do with women being raped? Is it OK to continue to pollute and abuse our resources to keep the economy going? Is it OK to test products on animals and trap animals in industrial processes to massproduce food? Many more voices are questioning and rejecting old boundaries, many are caught in the middle and questioning where they stand, and many are quoting scripture at every opportunity to justify positions. Scripture does not discuss the handling of our environment, limited resources, and the trade agreements that require cross-cultural negotiations.

To me, the very fact that we are vocalizing our beliefs, protesting, and asking hard questioning is just natural and normal in every way. We want to make sense of who we are and how we fit into where we are. The changing conditions of our planet express an urgency never as strongly felt (or ignored) as it is now. The changing demographics of countries are triggering those threatened by the change. How far in history should we go to determine which country should preserve which demographics?

Every square inch of the planet – if it has apparent value – is being fought over. Conflicting belief systems are being fought over. To what end?

Well, simply speaking we are the human race sharing one planet and its limited resources. Because we do not really accept this fact, we draw artificial boundaries based on prior conquests, belief systems that have long ago been doctored by human interpretation, the size of nuclear arsenals, and the myriad of agendas – both personal and cultural. In some ways, it is comical how little people question what their humanity means, and what our true responsibility is to one another.

Rather than the black-and-white plot line of good vs. evil, the true battle unfolding appears to be “What does it mean to be human on Earth?” We have not yet answered this question in a satisfactory way. The process of discovery is even more difficult than the more lofty goal of “world peace” – and a prerequisite.

We cannot truly embrace humanity if we reject individuals, and we cannot set collective boundaries until we know who we are both as individuals and members of the human race.

For those who wish to help the planet, it is so important to re-examine their beliefs and value systems. Prejudices lurk deep in the unconscious, and these must be uprooted and the results shared widely across the globe.

Global unity does not need to be about loss of individuality and differences. A celebration of our uniquenesses must occur if we are to truly embrace who we are. 

We are evolving out of Darwinism, which is now holding us back. The “fittest” are nothing more than those who can manipulate others through economic and, therefore, military means. On a large scale, we are still small children on the playground, deciding on the rules of the game. Let’s just call it what it is, and it is not a criticism. A child who is nurtured into finding him or herself, beyond dire circumstances and family histories, does grow up and mature.

Let’s not be hasty to embrace or draw boundaries, but take our time working through the mess. Are these the right problems to consider?

  • “We aim to solve only the most urgent problems without looking at the big picture.” 
  • “We have conscious and unconscious personal agendas, and we don’t reflect on how these influence our lives at various levels.”
  • “We are afraid of life and hide until it is over.”

Embracing and setting boundaries are tightly intertwined processes, and we can no longer cling to others for answers. The onus is increasingly on each of us to be true, and we must pursue that calling with sincerity.

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