… are the two basic requirements, after other rudimentary needs have been met, for human beings to achieve true contentment. Yes, true happiness, as defined by Eastern philosophy, comes from inside and can not be purchased, bartered, or commanded.
Homo sapiens, however, are social beings; it is, in fact, one of the defining characteristics for all members of the Primate Order. Connecting and identifying with others is absolutely essential to our well being. Institutional experiments have been tried, with disastrous results, where all human interaction is denied to babies, children, and adults (solitary confinement is just one example). Many have equated these practices with torture.
Therefore, I (and many others) will argue, that genuine serenity and fulfillment are born and carried within another's appreciation and recognition (spoken and unvoiced) of our essential being, including all of our inherent gifts and talents.
The question that begs to be asked, if this is truly the case, is: why are these often the first things we withhold when other individuals do not meet our (societies, organizations, institutions, families) expectations for “proper” behavior? In many cases, as a first step in most confrontations, we go on the offensive and offer punishment, recrimination, debasement, shaming, or manipulation instead of real conversation, acknowledgement, acceptance, endorsement, assistance, and understanding.
I firmly believe that our society is hung up on the notion that everything should be hard earned – no free lunches here – instead of cooperation and compassion, with the real and deep-seated fear that we will end up with a spoiled, self indulgent, and entitled citizenry. News flash folks – we already have that, but not from the people we are most concerned about taking advantage of the system. In the words of musical artist, Alanis Morissette, “Isn't it ironic”?
A system that resorts to stick and carrot mentality for the populous, meting out silly rewards for those who remain within the lines of conformity, and harsh judgment for those who are willing to step out of the system and make their own path, is simply not sustainable nor is it morally tenable.
When people are denied the very fundamental right of dignity, self respect, and value, they will often go in search of it through whatever means are necessary. They, to be quite honest, already feel societies disapproval and contempt, so, no amount of constriction, control, discipline, coercion, or chastisement will change their thinking or their conduct. As individuals and organizations it is not up to us to determine who is deserving of our admiration, support, cultivation, empathy, and encouragement, because, all humanity merits respect, reverence and honor.
Our epilogue is being written as I compose this, and, I hate to present the spoiler, but, it does not bode well for the happy, rosy, and optimistic ending many of us desire.
Or --- instead of waiting for this tale of impending doom to come to a crashing conclusion on its own, I invite (challenge) you to roll up those proverbial shirt sleeves and join me in taking action, before it is too late, to re-imagine and re-create our collective postscript one positive interaction, one supportive connection, one encouraging exchange, one validating affirmation at a time.