The Scott Shaw Blog

Be Positive

A Sense of Belonging

For each of us, we need a sense of belonging. We need to be a part of some greater whole that helps us to define who we are and what we are to become. Though this is the case for all of us, the problems arise when and if we become a part of something that guides us down the wrong road; a dark pathway if you will.

When we think of cliques that involve negativity, we immediately think of groups like people who steal, people who are members of violent gangs, people who use dangerous drugs, and so on. But, these exaggerated examples are not the sole definition of group activities that lead one down a dark pathway. There are so many other seemingly innocuous things that people base their merging into a group upon that not only causes pain to others but leads the individual to a place where they develop a life defined by a very negative mindset.

For me, the groups that I became a part of when I was young, that became a positive influence on my life, were the martial arts, The Sufi Order, and the Integral Yoga Institute.

To focus on the martial arts for a moment, whenever one hears of the martial arts they visualize the idealized image of a practitioner learning ancient methods of self-defense and perhaps meditation. And, this is and should be the case. But, beyond the expected obvious, there are, and I have witness and experienced it, so many levels of negativity used in association with the martial arts that few would even believe it. I have seen so much negative, petty nonsense, unleashed by the mouths and deeds of so-called martial artists that it is hard to believe, even for me. The fact of the matter is, and something many self-proclaimed martial artists seem to overlook is that the truly accomplished never judge, attack, or insult anyone. For those of you who are not martial artists, all you have to do is read comments made on the various posting boards around the internet and this level of demeaning attack orientated nonsense is easy to find.

From the perspective of someone who has been involved in the martial arts for virtually my entire life, whenever I see or hear that style of rhetoric I know it is the depiction of an individual who is
not a true marital artist. So, I steer clear. But, to the novice or the individual who is not a practitioner they may get sucked into this level of discourse; which is not positive on any level and has the potential to hurt the life of other people.

But, who cares; right? As long as you are a part of something—as long as you are voicing what you believe, then you are solidified as a member of that whatever. But, here lies the problem in that sense of belonging, if belonging causes you to hurt anyone or anything then what is the ultimate goal of your membership? Moreover, what is the ultimate karmic price you will pay for your belonging?

As stated, also becoming a part of certain spiritual groups were instrumental to my life in my early years. When one thinks about spirituality, on any level, just like the martial arts, one is guided into thinking about the idealized image of spirituality. This is especially the case when one thinks about Eastern Spirituality. And, for the most part, this is truly the case. The spiritual person is on a mission to follow a path of goodness. Though there certainly is no problem with this lifestyle, especially when one goes to the source point of these religious ideals, there arises a lot of conflict based in these seemingly idealized mindsets. Think of all the wars and all the attacks on human life based simply on a person’s religion. Is that goodness on any level? I would say, no.

In my early years, I was lucky in that I came up in a time when we who were involved with spirituality were taught to respect the truth in all religions. This is what I practiced then and still practice today. But, there were times, in my teenage years for example, exploring religion ideologies, when situations occurred like me being asked to leave a church simply because of the way I looked. Some people hated men with long hair back then. For those of you of this era, I imagine it is hard for you to even understand. But, in certain circles, if you had long hair, you were completely ostracized. There was one time that comes to mind when I was asked to leave a church, by the priest, simply while sitting there attempting to take in the experience. Didn’t Jesus have long hair?

Again, this goes to the point of being and how what you belong to can lead you in either a positive or a negative direction. What you are taught, what you come to believe, will guide you down the life pathway of what you will ultimate do.

Certainly, people do bad things all of the time. And, they do them intentionally. If they get caught, then they blame their social environment, their childhood, even the person they are hurting or taking from, or they pull out the sympathy card and cry and scream, “I’m sorry.” For those who don’t get caught, they just do and do and do; hurting others with no care for the damage they are creating. As long as they are supported by their group, they do and they do and they do.

So, what does this tell us? First of all, you must ask yourself, what group do you belong to? The next question you must ask yourself, is what you are doing, that is cheered on by your group, hurting anyone or anything? If it is, shouldn’t that hit that place of caring goodness within you that tells you to stop what you are doing, if due to your association with a group you are provided with a motivation to hurt anyone or anything?

You always must question what you choose to belong to. Simply because it feels good to be a part of something larger than yourself, that should never be your sole motivation. If the group you are a member of, large or small, hurts anyone’s anything, can that ever be good on any level?

We all want to belong. We all hope to become a part of that greater group, leading to that sense of camaraderie. But, if you become a member of a group that hurts someone or something, then your entire life path becomes dominated by whom you have hurt; even if you have only hurt one person. If that is the style of group you belong to, what do you believe will ultimately come to be the definition of your life?

Know the focus of the people you choose to associate with. Consciously choose the groups you join.