For the Sake of Belonging

I remember the ‘70’s pretty well. I remember high school and all the activities you could be a part of. There were many different clubs you could join and/or sports, if you were the athletic type. I remember the cliques. The jocks. The smart kids. The religious kids. The potheads. The rich kids. The wallflowers. The bullies. Groups of like-minded kids would band together. Kids feel the need to belong to something.

As for me, I was quiet. Maybe a little backward too. If there was a club that interested me, I always chickened out from joining. I liked gym class and apparently I had some athletic skills. Two coaches saw my potential and pleaded with me to play basketball and run track for our school. I approached my parents with the ideas and my dad flat out told me no, that I was fifteen and had to get a job. So that’s what I did. I got a job. I didn’t participate in any extracurricular activities all through high school. Something I regret to this day.

But I did belong to something. I was a part of the neighborhood gang. (More like the Our Gang of the Little Rascals.) There were lots of us close in age. I have great memories of belonging to that group of friends. When my family moved to another state in my junior year, it was difficult at first to figure out who was who, and exactly where I belonged. After several wrong turns, I finally found a fun group of kids to hang out with. We celebrated our 40th class reunion last year. It was great to make that connection once again.

I’m not real sure what’s going on with the younger people of today though. There’s still a desire to belong, but there seems to be this real need to be recognized as well. We experienced short-lived fads and did crazy things when I was a kid. We had fun. We encouraged each other. We had our little spats like siblings. We were family to each other. If we believed strongly in something we didn’t scream and yell, block highways, burn things, or punch people. We didn’t burn the flag, and we certainly didn’t pull people from their own vehicles and beat them. So what has changed?

I’m not saying we were a perfect generation. There were threats of rioting between our two high school campuses. I remember going home early one day because of a threat but nothing ever happened. There was no cause for a riot. It was just loud kids disrupting school. There were issues around our country, yes. I’m not denying that. But what we are seeing today is more than unbelievable. It’s horrifying that we have gotten to this level of anger and hatred.

Going back to my youth, I remember when I first heard about vegetarians. I didn’t know anyone who was one, but I just decided one day that I was going to be one. I knew nothing about it except you didn’t eat animals. And I liked animals so this sounded like the thing to do. I was going to take a stance even though I didn’t really know what my stance was. I wanted to be different. I was going to be noticed. I was going to be a picture of smartness because of my new found loyalty to vegetarianism. That morning I proudly told my dad I was going to be a vegetarian. He asked me why. All I remember saying was “I’m not going to eat animals anymore. I’m done eating animals.” I could tell he didn’t appreciate my simple answer, but I was going to hold my ground. That night he ordered pizza from the Quonset, our favorite pizza place. My siblings and I were so excited. He brought it home and unwrapped it. Ohhhhh…that warm Quonset aroma.

And then my dad announced that I couldn’t have any. He proceeded to tell me everything on the pizza that was an animal product. I thought I could just pick things off of it but being vegetarian was way more complex than just removing a piece of pepperoni. I remember not feeling so proud (or smart) at that moment, and I felt foolish in front of my family. Belonging for the sake of belonging…

I believe that much of what is going on in our country is similar to my pizza story. I’m not saying that vegetarianism is on the same level as whose life matters more. But they can make a good argument over the treatment of animals. My point here is that people are joining groups without understanding what the organization stands for, how they are supported, how the money is spent, and how they get their message out, etc. It’s this powerful need for acceptance, to be noticed, to take a stand, etc. And once inside, it’s much easier to do questionable things with fellow believers. Even if it is horrible acts of violence. I was alone in my vegetarianism and it lasted less than 8 hours. Once I learned more about it, I decided it wasn’t for me. Had I stayed, would raiding supermarkets and destroying meat counters have justly served my cause to not eat animals?

A girl tried to defend socialism in a recent interview. She stated she wants to live in a socialistic society. She is one of many young people who are pushing socialism. When asked about her stance on it, she said we are actually living in socialism right now. How so? Because she and the interviewer were in the act of socializing. Her understanding is that we socialize with each other therefore, we are living in socialism. See what I mean? Belonging to something for the sake of belonging. She has no concept whatsoever of what socialism is yet is pushing this agenda along with a large group of others (who don’t understand either). There’s a strong need for acceptance especially among young peer groups. And there is strength in numbers. People in groups do things they would never consider doing if they were alone.

This younger generation should get us older people to think more deeply, but at the same time, they need to know in detail what they are choosing to represent and support. Lessons in history and government are needed as well. Somewhere along the line, respect has been lost. Right now communities are ablaze with “children” throwing temper tantrums. Respect has been thrown out the window. If we give them what they want now, whatever that is, they will resort to tantrums with every future desire. Didn’t we parents already know this is how tantrums work?

I know I’ve spoken mainly about the younger population, but I must add that older people are also adding fuel to this inferno, and quite frankly, I’m appalled that men and women my age are acting this way. We need to be good, strong examples to the younger generations. They can point fingers at us already for letting them down in some ways, but to hand them bricks to throw at businesses, or stand beside them and throw bricks with them, is beyond my comprehension.

Everything is so heated right currently that I do not know what the quick answer is stop the madness. We have so many massive fires burning at the same time. Discipline is definitely needed. No protest is just cause to inflict harm on another human being or to destroy property. We need to get this stopped.

Belonging for the sake of belonging…

Well, I said my piece for the day. I’m sure we are all tired of the chaos. We need to choose to be a better people. All of us. Not just one color or another. All of us.

Rise above the hate and be grateful. ♥️

Andi

Sorry for the lack of pictures. But what would be appropriate?

Photos: youtube.com; quonsetpizza.net

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