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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Philosophy is Phun Post # 59 – Commonalities

To put it bluntly, commonalities are essentially the similarities between two or more people. It is something that we all share in common and is usually a characteristic or feature that we have. In essence, every single person on this planet shares a commonality with one another and that is that we are all human. It is a unique bond that groups us together that distinguishes us from other creatures of this earth like animals and plants. It plays a huge role in creating classifications that separates objects and beings apart from one another. This can have many different uses that I will describe in this post.
One of the main things that commonalities and similarities are useful for is to build networks. If you think about it, since the beginning of time humans have been forming networks with one another based off commonalities. All cultures are formed on the basis of some type of common value or beliefs. It is very useful because is organizes and unites people together under certain values and principles. No matter what your beliefs are, out of the almost 7 billion people on the planet, there is bound to be at least one who shares a common view and perspective as you. Religion is a great example of this. It has united people since the beginning of recorded history. Once a group of people start becoming established based off a set of commonalities, they form civilizations that feed off these principles and put them to practice.
The one problem that is associated with similarities is the fact that not everyone else shares the same values and principles that you do. This has caused many conflicts over the years as almost every war has been started because of conflicts of interest between two different groups of people. Each set of belief systems have different moral guidelines and rules that they abide by as a basis for being a member of that particular group. Because not every group is dictated by the same rules, if any rules seem to hinder another set of rules from existing and being practiced there will be problems associated with it. Whether it is beliefs on how resources to use or what God to praise, history has been riddled with such campaigns to show that one specific group is better than another or at the very least, that one group’s ideals will be carried out over another’s. World War II was started on the basis that Hitler believed that anyone who shared blonde hair and blue eyes in common were genetically superior to everyone else so that justified his belief that everyone else deserved to be wiped out and his people were entitled to world domination.
This brings me to my next point about discrimination because of differences. Since not everyone shares the same set of common beliefs, there used to be a huge resistance to diversity. Whether it was the Crusades, Jim Crow laws, or another other example you could cite from the history books, if you were different in any shape or form from the established authoritative group, you usually were in trouble. Segregation, genocides, and slavery all resulted from being different than those who were in charge and had the power. If you don’t possess a commonality with those who are in control, you were usually at the very least ostracized from their organized body and would lose any benefits associated with being a part of that group. If you weren’t the right race, religion, gender, or another other distinguishing factor, you would be severely limited on the opportunities available to you in life and most likely be stuck with a life of hardships and barriers.
Luckily, as society becomes more advanced and civilized, these distinctions that once separated are now viewed as vital. Society is placing a bigger importance on the commonality that I mentioned in the beginning, we are all humans and all deserve to be treated as such. Diversity is now advertised at all colleges and it is something that administrators strive to achieve and maintain. We have realized that despite our commonalities, it is through our differences that we gain strength. Everyone has a different perspective and story to share that provides vital insight to our knowledge of the universe. The spread of silk from Asia gave rise to better forms of clothing and the proliferation of the internet has only connected us even more. I personally would hate to live in a society where everyone was just like me. It is really eye opening and reveals new ways of looking at life that can provide me with valuable acumen that I can directly apply to my life. Each individual is unique in their own way and through that we all share a common bond. Crazy huh?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Philosophy is Phun Blog # 58 – Evolution of a College Student

As I get closer to the end of my first semester as a freshman here at the University of Maryland, I have realized a lot about my life has changed to an extreme degree, that being an understatement. I no longer have my mom as my alarm clock and instead of my mom and dad I have Andrew and Kyle, my two roommates. I don’t have home cooked meals but now I have dining halls. In high school there was a recognizable small niche community while now I am one in a crowd of 38,000 people. With these changes, I have had to transition into a completely new way of life. For those of you reading right now that have yet become a student of a university, nothing that I can say can truly prepare you for the change of pace associated with being a college kid. It is truly one of the biggest examples of things you must experience first-hand in order to truly understand. While after reading this, you may think that college is a scary time and I won’t lie to you and pretend that it isn’t. It all depends on how you transition into your new lifestyle and that will determine how much you are able to enjoy it and how much success you will have as well. By the end of this semester I can proudly say that I have established this university as my new home and have made many new friends and adjusted my habits to hopefully ensure that I will have success in my remaining years of college.

In order to have these changes in my life, I must also go through the transition period where I adapt from the old to the new. Adapting is a necessary and vital skill to have in order to be a successful person in life. You don’t need such a blatant example like going to college to know that every day we are faced with situations that require us to adapt and change. It could be anything from adjusting your plan to your entire philosophy and perspective on life. Sometimes these changes are voluntary and others are forced but regardless, making a transition will almost always yield positive results in the long term. It is necessary to assimilate into whatever culture or society you associate with in order to fit in and be afforded opportunities. If you are completely too stubborn to change at all, time will pass you by and you will be stuck with old ways of thinking that may no longer be applicable to the current situation at hand. With this being said, it is still important to retain some of your original ideals and values. These are what make you who you are as an individual and if you lose focus on them then you can really harm your own well being and cause confusion and identity problems. Keeping reminders and memories of where you have come from is a great way to exhibit everything you have accomplished so far in life and will allow you to look forward and focus on achieving so much more.

As I mentioned, fitting in and getting comfortable are the main reasons why you want to make a transition as smooth as possible and why you ultimately modify your actions or thinking. It is natural to not enjoy the feeling of anxiety and restlessness accompanied by being outside your comfort zone so we attempt to make a place feel like home. This is why many dorm rooms are decorated with posters from home or interests that you have in order to increase this home feeling. It is vital that we in some shape or form get this homey feeling because without it, our productivity and efficiency will most likely be hindered. Most people can’t get work done let alone function without feeling comfortable in their current environment. While there are those people who are exceptions to the rule and feed off the adrenaline that uncomfortable situations give them, for the most part I believe people would rather live in an environment that makes them feel safe and secure rather than scared and vulnerable.

This transitionary period can vary in duration depending on who you are. Everybody has different comfort zones and their ability to adjust these boundaries of comfortability will directly correlate to how quickly a person will be done transitioning. Going back to the college example, the quicker you can make new friends, get used to your classes, and deal with being completely responsible for yourself, the quicker you will be able to feel at home. I have made this university my home and if you keep yourself open-minded, transitions present an opportunity to try new things and are necessary for growth and advancement.