Early humans gathered together for protection and resources; the ability to hunt and migrate was made easier in a group, tribe or clan. There was safety in numbers.
Therefore, it is human nature to feel the need to belong. Humans have created areas where people can group together. May it be families, churches, community events, social media, book clubs, sport teams, political parties, etc. We can even create groups which exclude people. These people will feel a closer bond as they share a trait with some that they don’t with others. This vision of belonging is looking at how people are different and not how people are the similar.
We have many dark moments in history where the negative aspect of belonging have led to war, segregation, racism, suppression, violence, injustice, dictatorship, etc. The idea of acceptance was not in the equation. People in all aspects of society can be oblivious to the pain and phycological damage they cause to others. This “gang mentality” can be sparked by an irrational person who influences their peers to adopt and believe their traits. Sometimes, these beliefs go against people’s better judgement. These people may have one major factor in common. The lack of empathy. The compelling nature of “peer pressure” and the idea that humans naturally imitate one another, over the course of time, these negative traits can become socially acceptable.
“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” Voltaire
It only takes a few, who see past the norm of society, to speak out and educate the masses for the future generations. Non violent leaders like Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, spoke of acceptance and understanding; promoting non-violence and peaceful protest methods of seeking justice and inclusion. Bringing people together, and in doing so, we learn how to connect with other nations.
“People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.” Martin Luther King Jr.
The need to be affiliated with and accepted by other people is certainly strong in most people. Therefore, it is urgent that we need world-wide acceptance and understanding and be governed by justice, empathy and understanding. No more my country right or wrong.
“Gentleness, self-sacrifice and generosity are the exclusive possession of no one race or religion”. Mahatma Gandhi
We can teach how to belong through our similarities by education. Change comes with knowledge. Most people who lack acceptance and empathy are uneducated or misguided. Schools need to adopt curriculum that teaches acceptance.
“Teaching Empathy is about teaching students, not content…how they feel about the incoming knowledge will ultimately determine how useful it is to them”. Terry Heick February 2015 George Lucas Educational Foundation