Once in awhile I even foolishly engage in some of the discussion. This is a hazard for me for any number of reasons. First and foremost, knowing I am out of touch with the world since I don't watch television, read the latest best sellers, go to the movies, etc. This handicap sometimes causes me to at a total loss when others start making references to things I am totally unfamiliar with. The other problem is that because I don't follow these things, I also don't realize there is a certain mindset inspired by those things that I don't always understand. Unfortunately, I still tend to observe and contemplate, and think for myself rather than following the latest trend.
Of course, this sounds so great that others think its an admirable quality, one that they too follow. Well, I don't know that it gets much admiration in the real world, and I don't think too many actually engage in it or there would be a lot more people I could actually relate to. Oh, its not that I don't socialize, or that I am ostracized. On the contrary, I really have a wide circle of very dear friends, very wonderful casual friends, fascinating acquaintances and inspiring mentors. The reason is, most people, when they truly take the time to know me, realize that I prefer to be helpful, that I am generous with my time, and money (when I have any), and love to encourage people to be all that they can be.
The other thing they discover is that I take open mindedness to greater lengths than average. I am also discreet, and when needed, will offer counsel and comfort to those who might have a need. However, they first have to get past the current notion being open minded and my version of being open minded. To be being open minded means that you may have any ideas, beliefs, values, lifestyles you want, and I respect that. Where I draw the line is when someone feels their rights are superior to another persons. Of course many will be nodding their head in agreement, never realizing that it isn't what they think it is.
If I meet someone who is a Christian, they can go on as long as they wish about their beliefs and how they are inspired by it, and how it has helped them with their life. Not that I am going to agree with all their claims, but I don't mind sharing them or listening to others share them, learning a bit about them and another perspective of life. But I lose interest when the same person begins to disparage others by using their belief as a weapon to claim others are wrong or sinful, whatever. Sorry, I can't go there, I don't believe in a spiteful God or vindictive religions of any kind. And I don't hesitate to stop them.
BUT, and this is the BIG BUT -- I also don't have use for the opposing antagonistic views. I have several gay friends, some very close and dear. And I sympathize with many of the difficulties they face and often commiserate with them. But when they start in on how others are wrong because they don't embrace the gay lifestyle, I stop them too. If someone starts ranting how narrow minded the Boy Scouts of America is because they don't want gay leaders, or they want to leave God in the Pledge of Allegiance, I stop them too. As I try to point out, just as gays ask for respect for themselves as a person, they should also be respectful of those that don't agree with them. Of course, many think that is an outrage because if they don't embrace gays wholly, they are obvious bigots. Sorry I don't agree, I think they just have their own views and I don't think there is a thing wrong in the world with holding different beliefs. Then comes the argument that yes, but gays are born this way and so not accepting them is wrong. Well, I've known people who are bi-sexual and others who are celibate, so if its a inborn trait, I don't know how people can have such differences if its something that is either/or, straight/gay. My point is, it is just one little facet of their personality, not their entire being. My sexual life is quite private, so my inclinations don't make any difference to me or anyone else. Most cannot even guess what my tendencies are. So to think that people should spend all their efforts identifying themselves solely by their sexual identity because they are gay, to me is just limiting. I don't do limiting. As my gay friends have come to understand, I value them as a person for their qualities, not for their sexual habits. And in the end, that's a pretty good feeling.
That to me is being open minded. In my mind, everyone may feel what they want, they may practice any lifestyle they want, they can adhere to any belief they want, as long as they don't force their choices on others, condemn others because they are different, or mainly abuse anyone not like themselves. Simple, take pride in yourself and your accomplishments, admire accomplishments and sincerity in others, and never attack someone in self-righteousness.
Which is why I was wondering, once again how I fit into the world and takes me back to the beginning here. As I have wandered around web, recognizing my handicapping shortcomings, I have often come across the notion that uniqueness is an asset. A different point of view, and new perspective can really attract attention. If a writer explores their uniqueness, through their writing, many claim it will attract their interest. Yet the more I see, the less I see in uniqueness, and a great deal more in following the pack. Unfortunately, the packs are dividing, drawing lines, hurdling threats and accusations at one another, and declaring themselves more righteous than the other. Everyone feels they must follow the trend, even if that trend is inspiring less individuality, less respect, and less compassion.
When I follow certain things, I can almost predict the outcomes. I know unique is a fuzzy state of mind people want to claim as long as it isn't so unique it differs from their views. To me, the more I observe, the less uniqueness I am finding, the more judgmental, the more self-satisfied. People seem less open, less willing to live and let live. Everyone wants to be right. But uniqueness has never been about being right, it is the notion of accepting all possibilities. No, I am failing to find uniqueness, but more like a greater desire to follow a trend, which isn't exactly going to enhance their individuality. But it also makes me increasingly confused about where I might fit. I am coming to the conclusion being unique actually sucks.
For me, I suppose its an old habit, inspired by an old saying, Lead, follow, or get the hell out of my way. I hope someday, maybe more will join me on the trail of unique, toss of the trends, and celebrate all the magnificence of our differences. And one day, maybe I'll actually find the agent or publisher who truly is looking for something unique and I'll find a niche in the world, even if its just my own folly.