The desire to be “normal” is one of the fundamental drives in any culture due to the core human need to belong. Those who fall outside the margins of “normal behavior” are generally looked at as outsiders. To belong to mainstream culture requires one to enter into a constant self-questioning process. Am I wearing the right clothing? Do I look “presentable”? What do people think of the event I hosted? What is everyone thinking about me right now? The questions are endless and they are exhausting.
The danger in trying to be just like everyone else is that what is considered “normal” behavior could very well be immoral. It is considered normal to praise the troops fighting in foreign lands. To question the mission in some circles is to question your loyalty to them. It is considered normal to engage in profit-making enterprises for the purposes of securing the means to one’s well-being. To question the externalities caused by business operations is to question your belief in “freedom” of the free-enterprise system. It is considered normal to be a consumer constantly buying new material goods to impress others. To question the behavior will usually leave you excluded from future co-consumption events.
However, being unique poses issues as well. If the uniqueness translates to an inability for others to understand you, it is possible that one might be excluded from the group, banished, or ostracized. In many cultures, banishment was thought to worse than death, as that individual would have to fend for themselves in the wild, a proposition that carries with it great fear. Being excluded from the social group hurts. How can we learn to embrace each other for their uniqueness and diversity?
I believe embracing diversity, not just in physical appearance but also in lifestyles and interests, is one of the core challenges in creating a sustainable global culture. As we develop our understanding of interconnectedness, despite differences in our appearance, race, religion, or belief systems, it becomes necessary to embrace one another for our unique qualities, using them as an opportunity to learn more about what it means to be fully human. This is the challenge that faces all of us individually and is a necessary prerequisite to extending empathy to the entire human race, not just those we deem to be “normal.”
Source: “Are You Tired Of Trying To Be Just Like Everyone Else?”, from sustainableman.org