I wanted to explore Real relationships, Real living, Real community.
And, over a period of time I have come to believe that no matter how hard it may seem, don’t give up.
It is quite true that you cannot just give up what you truly perceive just because the community wants you to give up that viewpoint. This is what I call being pushed to the wall.
And you ought to make a decision.
To keep your mind. It is essential.
Or else either of the following will happen:
- You will compromise. You will lose your identity and surrender to group dynamics and invisible power struggles
- You will go mad (trying to win them over to your point of view. Believe me, most of the time, they just can’t see)
- You decide to stay with what you feel, and don’t talk about it anymore with the group. Yet you observe all the cuckoos around, courting with each other with sweet nothings, not risking any real plunge, feel what the group does to you, to see where your heart finally leads you.
Since one would not want to give up one’s own rational judgement (or gut feeling) and at the same time would not want to end up in a mental asylum, the third point is a good option.
A win-win for both the group and yourself
Because, if the group is not meant for you, then you will eventually grow out of the group and not be a part of the group anymore. Till your heart pines for the group, to be in, don’t just cut yourself from the group… there is much learning to do.
And if your point is true, your presence in the group itself is allowing an alternate point of view to exist thus making space for others who may feel the same at a later period.
For others in the group, I believe that you cannot just chuck a person out of a “community” if he does not adhere to your viewpoint or the group viewpoint. Remember that Pariahs become prophets! The group that does away with people who have alternate viewpoints grows into a cult. And a cult is always made of narrow-minded people on a self-deluding trip to doom.
At an individual level, when you see that the group does not agree with your viewpoint, you can keep the viewpoint to yourself. Soon you will learn to get on with people who totally disagree with you and keep your cool. Even watching- people go on a trip of self-deluding trip of community-building, when all they want to do is feel important, escape, have some good time, and not take the plunge into the risk that real community building is- is in itself quite an interesting observation. You can idealize the individuals you will not want to turn out to be like.
My observation has been that most of the people who seek out to explore honest community building like to balance their eggs in two baskets. As has been taught in society. Nobody wants to take the risk. So the group turns out to be another mirror of the Society itself, something that the group never wanted to be.
This happens because of the risk that Intimacy entails. Nobody understands the dynamics of Intimacy.
I believe intimacy involves a certain amount of stripping of the masks we go around with. You cannot court another person in the group wearing your mask. It will only make you uncomfortable and aimless in the long term to drop out, or give a feeling of discomfort to the other person. There is a possibility that some individuals in my group feel that discomfort yet are themselves too indecisive about the risk of taking that first step into true intimacy.
I believe I have a strong intuition for such masks! And I grew really tired of masks; especially the sweet-nothings and “coffee table talk” of people in the group. I would have loved it if they had cared to advance beyond that to the next level.
Fear of intimacy happens because people in our society are quite uncomfortable with intimacy. Because with intimacy, there is always a risk that you will end up showing more of you than the other person can handle. Yet till we take that risk, no true intimacy between two people is possible, let alone true community building which starts with true-intimacy.
There are times that we feel afraid of people stripping their mask, because we wonder if he will get emotionally dependent on us. This is because in outside life every time a person stripped his mask, it was to blackmail us into an emotional trap.
If a person in the group feels inhibited to express himself wholly, then there is a lot to be done to make the space more congenial to honest self-expression. Where else can a person express if not in the space, when the society has cut off all avenues of honest self-expression and honest community built on honesty, devoid of fear?
Yet even as one strips, there is always a risk that the group will react negatively especially in the initial stages when it is not strong enough to handle such blatant deviation from the norms of the society outside.
And if this happens to you, as has happened with me, you just wait. Don’t voice it anymore, hold it and see what time has to say…
But please don’t give up. Don’t give up your exploration please.
As Madhavikutty Pathangal says in her poem…
Once you reach that shore,
That unlit shore
Please do not return (paradoxically, the unlit shore here is the realm of madness for the poetess Madhavikutty. She was one person who set out on the same journey, all alone. She is now converted to Islam!)
Yet I believe there is still hope, for an honest communication, self-expression, freedom to be, true community building, true belonging and acceptance… I say so, because I have tasted ‘a few moments here and there of the sweetness of a true community’ even in all the chaos that I perceive the group is in at present.