There was a brief moment back somewhere at the end of the 1980’s when I felt like all my friends liked each other and everyone magically got along.
It didn’t last.
It feels good to belong. It’s nice to have like-minded people around; people who get my jokes and accept my opinions, whether they’re deep held beliefs or spur of the moment impressions.
But it isn’t easy. I have many circles of friends, some labeled by Google Plus, and many who are not labeled at all. But within any group, I always find myself holding back some piece. If I’m around people with similar political views, there’s certain to be some social issue on which we disagree. At church, where people are supposed to be the most loving and accepting, I often find myself hiding the most. At work (I teach spreadsheets at a Technical College) there are many uniting factors, but just as many dividing issues. I’ve learned what are good topics of conversation, and when to keep my mouth shut.
It continues online. I do have facebook friends from church and work (Yes, even my boss!) as well as every other circle in my life. At least in the virtual world, many people simply look the other way, or perhaps do a few eye rolls when I post something they don’t like.
You can’t please everybody. Even the most innocuous comment might offend someone.
Sometimes, when you put a toe tentatively into a pool of people you feel might be like-minded, you find a safe and welcoming environment. Other times, you get your toe bitten off. Or you find yourself welcomed into something completely different than you thought it was!
One theme of my Kingdom Come stories is that a normal, typical marriage consists of several men and several women. Of course, in our society today, the idea of group marriage is unusual at best; scandalous or even downright offensive at worst. But that’s the idea of SciFi… you take a social issue, but say that it happens on another planet or in another sentient race, and remove it from the here and now. Seeing it from the outside makes it easier to dissect and understand. Star Trek did that all the time.
The social issue of group marriage in my books is not presented as deviant behavior, but simply as the social norm for that society. Conservative, church-going, child-rearing, possibly even prudish people.
The problem I have is doing the real research. Dipping my toe into the pool of people who embrace group marriage today can be quite shocking! For some, the ideal is an open marriage where the couple is sexually intimate with multiple partners, sometimes together, sometimes separate. There are many examples of polygamous groups where one man has several wives. In this situation, there are some who seem to be happy, consenting adults, while in other situations the polygamous marriage is tainted by the fact of underage girls being brainwashed or even forced into the situation.
I’m eager to talk to people who are actually living in a committed, loving, adult relationship with more than just two people. But I must admit, I’m a little bit scared! Because even though I am publicly connecting myself with this group of people for all time through my fiction, so far I’ve found we have more differences than similarities.
But that’s the stuff of life. And belonging is over-rated. I belong with my husband, even though the two of us don’t agree on everything! But acceptance is a much better goal. Because although I won’t ever find a group of people with whom I agree on everything, I can certainly enjoy my place in the various groups in my life where people accept each other.
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