Sunday, 13 January 2013

A Dose Of Reality

It may come as no surprise that we don't live in an ideal society (whatever your notion of an "ideal society" is) but that should not stop us striving for one.
Ideals, after all, are dreams and dreams give us something to strive for and stop us becoming lethargic and ignoring all the bad stuff that goes on.
But ideals can also be dangerous if they lead us to being oppressive and unforgiving.
For instance, one of my ideals is that no one should be judged by their appearance.
But if I were to force that ideal on to others who didn't share it then I would be being oppressive. If I then damned them for not living up to my ideal I would then be being unforgiving.
Neither of those qualities (being oppressive or unforgiving) are ones I value and thus I find it even more damning when I use them against myself - when I force myself to live up to other people's ideals and/or give myself a hard time for not living up to my or someone else's ideals.
Thus it seems a far better thing to do to show compassion by injecting a dose of reality.
So, whilst I think no one should be judged by their appearance, the reality is that it's a mode of thinking that's ingrained into us from the moment of our births.
We are constantly bombarded by adverts that encourage us to define beauty and, through doing so, 'appreciate' that we are lacking in worth as a human being because we don't match that definition (that often has no basis on reality). We are repeatedly told that we must wear something "suitable" or "fashionable" or that only a certain look is acceptable (e.g. "Black tie event"). People are judged on what sex/gender they appear to be (and "never the twain shall meet"!) and expected to live up to the different standards set for each. Whole countries go so far as to define their national identity - even down to defining a "national costume"! - and thereby define those who look different as "other" and thus not their equal.
So it is quite clear the reality is that every minute of every day people are being judged by their appearance.
Thus it seems to me that it is far better for me to appreciate that the reality is what it is and have my ideal as a goal to aim for - not one that I insist is met at this very moment.
Doing so is difficult. It means I have to tolerate - even if only at a surface level - the mockery and social exclusion that goes on in the name of "fitting in" - the mockery and social exclusion that often exhausts our capability and our willingness to survive.
However, in showing toleration of what the reality is, I am offering compassion to my fellow human beings and resist the temptation of replacing one tyranny with another.