Tag Archives: Relationships

Bridge to understanding

Reaching Our Potential of Compassion

I may be one of those people, when you see one of my posts on serious topics, you quickly ignore, or wish, I should keep my opinions to myself. That’s understandable and perhaps I am cringe worthy at times. I hope this isn’t one of those times.

Recent private conversations with other people, cause me to suggest this is still a topic requiring open discussion or at the very least, thoughtful reflection.

Humans are complicated in many ways, but there are some basic requirements which all need in order to stay healthy. I’m primarily referring to emotional and mental health. I’m not a licensed professional or a person with advanced degrees in human psychology. I’m just someone who cares about other people, even those who live different than myself.

Each of us has a basic need to be cared for and loved. Try as you might, no one stays totally emotionally healthy without social contact and some form of reassuring interaction. Some people substitute animals for this support, but there’s still more to be found with other people. That’s also a challenge, because associations with some people are toxic.

As we go through a process of physical maturity, and our minds and bodies react to hormones as well as our thoughts, some things become automatic. One of these are sexual attractions. Out of this physical attraction, human bonds are formed, but here’s where it’s not necessarily going to be predictable, or set in a pattern which many of us think is the only way it should be.

I’ve learned through observation, not always my own experience, but through the lives of others, an empathy for people who think and act different from myself. In the case of physical attraction, I fall into the socially predominant, opposite sex attraction. It started without me thinking, analyzing, or consciously deciding that I liked the physical appearance and voices of women over men. Without going into detail, those are early awkward years for most of us.

Here’s where it gets difficult to understand for those who only have opposite sexual attraction. It’s challenging to recall or realize our gender attractions were not something we woke up with and deliberately decided on. When you meet someone, or know a family member, who has same sex attractions, think about your own experience, because this isn’t really something we choose. It’s not like going to buy a new vehicle and say, I can only drive a red car.

Here’s where it gets tougher for many of us, because we start down a path which says, you can only think like me, or you’re abnormal, freakish, or defective.

If you’re religious, you may think the person is sinful. This becomes a huge problem for many families that want to impose their life patterns on everyone within their care. Yes, I’ve heard the expression, “you can love the sinner, but not the sin”. When it’s part of our sexuality, that’s when “world’s collide”. If it becomes your mission to change someone who’s homosexual to heterosexual, you’re missing an entire fundamental of human need vs. Human decision.

You or I didn’t flip a switch and say, today I’m going to become heterosexual. Neither does someone with same sex attraction. It’s not something you can change like clothing, houses, or the brain, through prayer, scolding, chastising, shaming, or some other form of guilt burden. We don’t choose who or why or how sexuality works. It’s independent from these kinds of machinations.

What can you do if a family member is gay? Well, for starters you can show you love them, don’t try to manipulate by burdening them with guilt, lecturing, or taking them to counselors until you think you’ve found the right one for the job. Learn to understand your own reasons for doing what you do, but look around and see, your way of thinking isn’t a “one size fits all.”

Let children learn and grow, but don’t find reasons to label them as abnormal. They’re having a tough enough time at school or work. Society is an emotional roller coaster, especially for teenagers. There are enough mine fields in their world to navigate. It’s not useful or helpful to push your own values on anyone, most especially the ones we love. They need our love, not our condemnation.

I know this is a bit long, but I hope it helps someone, somewhere.

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This thing called — Love.

I know Valentines Day is behind us and this topic might just bore some people beyond measure, however after reading a couple of these stories in National Geographic, I’ll take the time to reflect on the topic of love.

valentine heartLove is an elusive difficult concept to express in words. Poets, artists, musicians and numerous others have all added comment superior to any that I could express.

Some scientists say that the brain chemistry of infatuation is like a mental illness — giving new meaning to being “madly in love”. I’m glad that not too many songs are written with that expression.

Starting with perhaps the least romantic description, found in Dictionary.com.

love [noun]

1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.

2. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.

3. sexual passion or desire.

4. a person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart.

5. (used in direct address as a term of endearment, affection, or the like): Would you like to see a movie, love?

My definition may not match yours, but here are mine.

Love is a desire for the best outcome, the greatest amount of care for someone or something. I suggest something as well, because many of us have loved animals and in turn felt a mutual affection which is quite different from a human bond.

Love means you care beyond the need to associate or just be around, it suggests to me there’s a willingness to sacrifice time, energy and personal safety for the protection and benefit of another. You think in terms of what you can do to make someone else happy, not just please yourself.

Love isn’t simply a means to derive sexual pleasure or constant need to be fawned over. If that’s the case, it poisons the well.

Helen Fisher, PhD – Biological Anthropologist compartmentalized love into three distinct brain systems that enable mating and reproduction:

Sex drive
Romantic love (obsession, passion, infatuation)
Attachment (calmness and security with a long-term partner)

These are brain systems, not phases, Fisher emphasized, and all three play a role in love. They can operate independently, but people crave all three for an ideal relationship.

“I think the sex drive evolved to get you out there looking for a range of partners,” she said.

“I think romantic love evolved to enable you to focus your mating energy on just one at a time, and attachment evolved to tolerate that person at least long enough to raise a child together as a team.”

Valentine’s Day, Fisher added, used to encompass only two of these three brain systems: sex drive and romantic love.

But “once you start giving the dog a valentine, you are talking about a real expression of attachment as well as romantic love.”

Well, she certainly takes the sizzle right out of the equation.

I’ve witnessed a few good marriages in my life, not as many as I would have liked. When I see two people who have lived with each other for many years, are respectful of each other, learned how to mend the problems they’ve had, and want to wake in the morning near to each other, then that suggests they understand a deeper meaning of love.

That ideal of love between husband & wife I believe is the best for all involved. Many would call this old-fashioned, then again sunshine and rain are too, and I don’t believe that has fallen out of favor.

A National Geographic Love Story

Mabel Gardiner Hubbard became deaf due to illness while very young. She later met a speech therapist who took more than a passing interest as her teacher.

The teacher and part-time inventor was Alexander Graham Bell. In 1873, 27-year-old Alexander fell in love with 16-year-old Mabel, but it was a nonreciprocating fancy. “He was tall and dark with jet-black hair and eyes, but dressed badly and carelessly,” she said. “I could never marry such a man!” Over time, it appears that he overcame her objections. In a letter to Mabel on the night of their engagement, Alexander wrote, “I am afraid to fall asleep, lest I should find it all a dream—so I shall lie awake and think of you.”

valentine heart pierced

What about you. Has your heart been struck?

They had two daughters together, Elsie and Daisy. The union lasted for over 45 years. Alexander died in 1922 from complications from diabetes. Shortly before he died, Mabel held on to his hand and pleaded, “Don’t leave me.” Unable to speak, he replied, “No” in sign language.

That to me is love. To read a more complete story with pictures, in National Geographic, click here.

Related Links

Much to be thankful

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Science, philosophy, logic and reductionism are all limited to the basic 5 physical senses which we routinely use to acquire knowledge. Concepts of human relationships, such as love, trust, faith, hate, remorse, kindness, etc. are not objects and can’t be weighed or measured. If there is anything beyond our current level of scientific knowledge and personal experience, we are left to intangible concepts on belief or faith in those sources which inform us. Does this prove to any of us there is a metaphysical or universe beyond our level of understanding? The answer is no, so we are left to our own ability to discern fact from fiction.

Having a personal relationship with God which supersedes prescribed custom, social structure and convention is a personal aesthetic chosen by an individual. We can and should be able to decide on our own, free of coercion or societal misgiving.

Our experience may consist only of a sequence of feelings, images or sounds. Ideas such as ’cause, goodness, right, wrong’ are not objects and the only evidence of their effect is through context and consequence. It shouldn’t be necessary to start without order or foundation in order to examine our relationship to right, wrong, kindness or empathy but for many without fundamental morality, these values seem as foreign as learning another language.

God may or may not exist just because someone asserts they know for themselves. You have no reason to believe a person even if that belief is held by two or three or millions. Any relationship must be discovered, nurtured and understood by individual effort, not simply listening to speech, music or reading a book.

The Script - Science and FaithThe question of whether God exists has nothing to with any religion, faith, creed, bible or other book. All our ideas are imperfect. We can safely assume this has always been so.

The existence of God boils down to the question: is our existence a complete accident; or does it contain the slightest smidgen of design, the merest whiff of deliberate creation?

When posed in this way, the question becomes one of Natural Philosophy.
Frank Dunn