As humans, we instinctively learn through imitation. We do not merely imitate behaviors but we also imitate desire. We learn to desire the things that those around us desire. Inevitably, we’re competing over the object of that desire.
Over the last few days we have looked at two questions: Do you feel the competition for friendship and community? Do you feel that other people are getting the quantity or quality of relationships that you should be getting?
Yesterday I wrote about the fact that the desire to compete for relationships and belonging is so strong within me that, even when I belong, I want to belong even more and am perfectly willing to damage others to make that dream a reality. This isn’t because I want to hurt people, not consciously anyway. It’s because I tend to feel that other people are responsible for the isolation that I feel. Socially, I always find a way to feel like a victim. If I’m isolated, it’s not because I don’t work on friendships, it’s because other people don’t work on friendships with me. What a weird way to think!
I wrote about my graduate school group of friends yesterday. Over time, that group got bigger and bigger. Conflict started to arise among members of the group. Some of the people in the group started dating. Resentments were forming for all kinds of reasons. Some people didn’t think anyone in the group should date. Others were just jealous about who got to date who. Etc. etc.
How did the group respond to this? Well, most of the conflict stemmed from one person. He was causing problems for other members of the group. Various members of the group argued with this person, unkind words were spoken, and, before you knew it, he didn’t hang out with us anymore.
And you know what? For a while, all was calm….