Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Social Obligations

Aren't social obligations an interesting thing? I mean, when you have to invite a certain person, because they're family... or when you have to go somewhere because it's a family gathering. It's like we have a certain amount of God given freedom, but yet there are certain circumstances where this freedom is trumped and we have to do this.

If God has given us free will, and we are supposed to do what makes us happy, and man's law does not dictate to us social codes and rules, why is there in-born laws and rites of social interactions? I guess that culture and society dictate them to us, but doesn't ones happiness and personal needs take precedence over such dogma? Logically yes, but socially, no. Of course I speak in generalizations, for there are always those who go against family/social guidelines and live quite happily doing so, but even they feel the pressure of these rules.

I have a friend who is desperately seeking joy and fulfillment. He is currently away from his family, at school. This family does not support his decision to stay in school and pursue what drives him as a human being. He is passionate about his studies, and this is after years of finding emotional and spiritual dead ends in what would appear to his family as success. I think this person should be honored and supported by his loved ones, but instead many of his closest family members treat him with a reprimanding nature. Telling him to quit what he is doing and go back to the higher paying, "more successful" job he was once pursuing. This is awful. He has my full support to do what he feels will make him happy, and I express that to him often. He is one of those who toils with this issue of social dogma, and still continues to succeed.

There are other situations that dictate social acceptability as well. Weddings, for example, are often a source of conflict. Do we invite Aunt so-and-so, but not Uncle what's-his-name? Well, if we invite one how do we exclude the other? Cousin dum-dum invited us to his wedding, so we have to invite him to ours. It is this medieval thinking that is fascinating to me.

Thankfully, I do not feel like I am stifled or limited by these type of rules as some are, but I feel them sometimes, as we all do. For some, it rules their lives, and that is sad. Society and the rules that it puts on us are fabulously interesting and great to contemplate and analyze. It's like there are society's rules and the family's rules, and somewhere they derive from each other or in spite of each other.

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