Human Connection and Humanism

All humans feel the need to belong. We are tribal animals and we feel social exclusion as pain. It is important that we reach out to each other to help make sure people feel less alone.

I recently read a wonderful essay on exactly this topic. It's from a mom talking about how she tried to make friends with other moms at an activity her daughter goes to. And she was met with - disinterest and exclusion. She goes on to use this as a teachable moment for her daughter. Remember this and never do this to someone else.  Here is the article.

We are all human. We all struggle with needing to belong. And this - belonging is a big part of my practice as a Humanist. I remind myself to reach out to others. To be friendly to others. Even if it is just a person I am passing on the street or someone at the supermarket.   I smile and say hi. To everyone!  I don't shy away because of social class, skin color, age, gender or anything. Everyone. Part of my practice as a Humanist is to see everyone as fully human.

I do this for myself as much as I do it for them. I like reminding myself that I'm not alone. That there are other people out there like me - who want to be noticed. No - you aren't invisible. I see you. And I recognize you as fully human.

99% of the time, people smile back warmly - glad to be recognized and seen. I find it helps eliminate my feeling of isolation and based on the smiles and responses I get, I am guessing that it helps them too.

 The warmest smiles I get are actually from black women who seem startled that a white woman is being friendly with them. Black men too seem startled, but adjust quickly especially if they are with their wives.  Brown men and women respond the same way. My guess is that white women aren't normally openly friendly with people of color. Maybe if we overcome our fears of each other and people whose skin color isn't like ours - we can heal and integrate our communities more.

As for the people who don't reciprocate and who aren't friendly? I don’t worry about those who are not in a place to reciprocate. I have no idea who they are and what they are going through and what pain they might be experiencing. It is also possible that my female whiteness is scary to some people because of the history of white violence against brown and black bodies. I understand and accept that and don't judge and don't take it personally.

My being friendly has nothing to do with needing to be reciprocated or acknowledged. I do it for myself and for the people who may be lonely and for whom, having someone acknowledge their existence makes a difference. In other words, I do it for the people - the overwhelming majority of people - who smile back, glad, as I am, to have a small bit of human connection and friendliness in an otherwise scary world.

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