Adventures in Capitalism: Faith, Community, Friendship, and Imperfection
Stashed in: Interconnected!, Best Posts, #happiness, Best PandaWhale Posts, Life, Relationships, Religion, Community, Awesome, Meaning of Life, Survivor!, life, The Internet is my religion., Maslow!, @chrisyeh, Mr. Rogers
My first stash! A late-night meditation on how religion, Mr. Rogers, Mormons, college friendships, and accepting imperfection can lead to fulfillment and happiness.
Chris, I think you've clearly articulated the very human need not just to love and be loved, but to be understood, accepted, and appreciated despite our flaws:
I think we all have a need to be known, really and truly, and then accepted for what we are. Call it love. Call it friendship. Whatever it its, we need it.
I think we all have a need for community -- repeated, unplanned interactions with a group of people that accept us -- even if the pieces fit together imperfectly.
I think that religious organizations like the Mormon Church, wittingly or unwittingly, have built a culture around meeting both of these needs. And in doing so, they provide great benefits to their adherents, regardless what's in their theology.
If you are known, accepted, and loved by a community of people, no matter who those people are, I think you have something special that you should hang on to.
One of the clearest findings to emerge from research into happiness is that we are social creatures: http://www.pbs.org/thisemotionallife/topic/connecting/connection-happiness
Groups of humans connected -- whether family or friends, or through religious, political, academic, or charitable institutions -- gives us a sense of identity and a support structure that is conducive to happiness.
In contrast to material goods, we are more likely to continue to want our close relationships, even after we attain them, and to continue to derive positive emotions from them.
beautifully written thoughts, chris. makes me think of my dad who was brought up catholic and is now an atheist (he jokes that the purpose of catholicism is to create truly convicted atheists...) but believes fundamentally that churches and religious organizations are essential foundations for a strong and democratic society because they are the grassroots hubs for community building and that they bring to bear a social code within that community that is largely centered on productivity and survival.
i am a huge fan of mr. rogers. his experience as a vietnam vet was a pivotal motivation for his outreach to children with the message of love and kindness because his hope was to change the future while it was still open to suggestion. my respect for him is also tied to his strategy: he stands out as one of the few people who saw that tv - as the most widely available technological advance available to humankind at the time - was the tool through which to connect with other people via a shared meaning and purpose and communicating a message of love.
when i look across the spectrum of technology now - beginning with tv- i see the trends toward isolation or garbage in/garbage out not only as depressing but frightening. when we are disconnected from the world around us, we lose our ability to empathize. when we are inundated with images of catastrophe (hyped and real), we lose our ability to empathize. when we lose our ability to empathize, we lose our ability to feel others experiences and correlate them to our own. and when we lose our ability to correlate our existence to the world at large, we stop caring about it because we feel like we have no place in it.
lots has been written in the last few years about this disconnection that is occurring - maybe even being accelerated - as technologies advance and proliferate. and the rise of social media has seemed to exasperate that, which seems counter intuitive. but i would argue that it's because the model for social media is not inclusive, it's exclusive in all the wrong ways. in fact, it's polarizing.
pandawhale is charting new territory in this regard, right? and the differentiators are in the correlation between content curation and social interaction which is just a fancy way of saying that it's the storytelling that draws people in because it's personal. it's squirting Hershey's chocolate sauce assembly line style on scoops of vanilla ice cream with and for lots of people you don't really know but who all have a shared interest in ice cream and connecting.
so, when i look at religions, mr. rogers, social media, pandawhale, and mass market tech platforms what i see as the lowest common denominator is the power of story - and the platform for sharing it. the challenge we have in the first world is making conscious choices - and using technology to execute those choices - about the types of stories we want to tell, participate in, and perpetuate.
Chris - what a thoughtful and beautifully written piece. It is clear that you took such an authentically curious standpoint in researching for this. Thank you for taking us on that journey with you and exposing me to some articles I had not read before.
That sense of community is so important and what I love about social media (and sites like PandaWhale) is that it allows us to connect so deeply so quickly with others that we might not do in a social setting. It seems to take longer to make those connections in person as you have to get past more "social niceties" first.
Having said that, I believe that having a combination is crucial to our happiness. As Adam said, it is with that support that we are willing to take risks and feel supported during times of change.
This post also made me think of an excerpt from Velveteen Rabbit:
EXCERPT FROM THE VELVETEEN RABBIT
~ By Margery Williams ~
"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but Really loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.
Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get all loose in the joints and very shabby.
But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
love this story!! timeless.
Adam, just watched Jim Gilliam's talk. Moved beyond words.
I remember the Velveteen Rabbit! I'm so glad you made that connection, because I hadn't.
"Once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
I love it!
Oh, wow, Chris, that was wonderful. As a new member of pandawhale myself, let me say "welcome neighbor." I'm proud of you.
In the simple message of Mr. Rogers you've captured that core connection between ordinary communities and the religions that have held them together for centuries.
We do have unique challenges today where cultural change is accelerating even faster than it did in the middle of the last century when Mr. Rogers got his start. Women coming into the workforce, racial integrations all sorts of fundamental social changes affected the world from the jet age to the Internet age.
Your piece is also a good reminder of how "social networking" is really just a very first step in an emerging human integration with the networking technologies we've had at our disposal for a generation. "Friends," "Likes,"... oy! we're only getting started. How could we think this could replace the social glue of institutions that took generations to form.
Thanks for putting things into perspective. Now, let me see if I remember how to tie the laces on my sneakers.
You just blew my mind with an alternative way to tie my shoes after all these years, Barbara.
Hehe. It's still the bunny through the hole. ;-b
It's TWO bunnies through TWO holes. Double the fun!
Community is security.
With sense of belonging and support comes willingness to take risks and try new things.
Everything is built on trust. And the way we build trust is to make ourselves vulnerable, and accept the gift of others' vulnerability.
While doing some research, I found this quirky post by a hypnotist which has not studied Maslow, on 9 basic human needs: http://www.uncommon-knowledge.co.uk/emotional_wellbeing/steps.html
1. The need to give and receive attention.
2. Taking heed of the mind body connection.
3. The need for purpose, goals, and meaning.
4. A sense of community and making a contribution.
5. The need for challenge and creativity.
6. The need for intimacy.
7. The need to feel a sense of control.
8. The need for a sense of status.
9. The need for a sense of safety and security.
Really inspiring, Chris.
Everyday I post a few things trying to get a little closer to understanding why we do what we do and how those answers might lead me to a better life.
You provide a powerful reminder that it's not all about the search; that after a time of searching we must each take time to reflect.
It's in the reflection that we find meaning. It's in the reflection that we make meaning.
I need to follow your example and reflect more often.
Thank you, Eric. Your work inspires me every day. Without the raw materials of that understanding, reflection doesn't bring insight.
When I was young, it was hard for me to accept that I needed more experience before I could be wise, but as I get older, I come to see the truth of that principle.
I really love this post.
I completely agree with your thoughts on Mormons. Last month I attended a Mormon church down in Palo Alto for a few weekends because a friend invited me. To be honest, I went in expecting cold, alienating people but what I found was a loving, welcoming community - more so than any church I've been to in my life (and I've been to quite a few).
We all need to receive and give that love, I prefer to start by giving :)