This article provoked considerable response, most of which was very favourable, when it first appeared on my website several years ago.
It was dedicated to a special friend who was struggling with his own life and tried to illustrate that life is anything but two dimensional. At the time he considered his life to be worthless despite coming from a relatively privileged background, proving emphatically that materialism is not the route to eternal happiness!
Certain aspects of life are all about choices. Primarily, most of us are able to choose what we want to eat, how we dress, and our attitude towards everything that lies ahead of us on a daily basis. Similarly, many of us have the luxury of being able to choose how we live our lives, albeit within the confines of acceptable legal constraint. However, one’s sexuality is not really down to choice so it is distressing that many people feel they have the right to condemn others for their so-called ‘choice’ of lifestyle.
Many young people are victims of abuse and bullying at school. Nowadays, the matter is generally treated seriously, but for many years it went either unreported or undetected. There is no apparent reason for this anti-social behaviour, except perhaps because some people are slightly different from their peers. If one chooses not to kick a ball around the playground, preferring instead to remain indoors or read a book, this should not lead to individuals being taunted derogatively as the ‘gay’ boy. A continual barrage of both verbal and physical abuse can quickly take its toll, resulting in some people becoming introverted and lacking confidence, conditions that can affect their lives for many years.
Life means very different things to different people, and individuals have extremely diverse expectations. There is no simple definition to the meaning of life as life itself is so complex. The dictionary offers numerous definitions of the word including a state of functional activity; energy, liveliness, vivacity; living things; the period from birth to death. Life is all these things, but for everyone the proportion of them is different. Some people struggle to maintain an active existence; some lack the energy to live life to the full; and for others, sadly, their lives are inexplicably curtailed at an early age and they may never have experienced many of life’s so-called ‘rich’ tapestries.
In an ideal world, I am sure that we would all wish to be in complete control of our lives. In reality, however, this is not possible as we must comply with certain rules and regulations which often prevent us from doing as we would like. Such regulations are usually imposed for the overall benefit of mankind so that everyone in a civilised society may enjoy an acceptable standard of life. Within these parameters, therefore, most individuals are able to make certain choices which subsequently may have a profound effect upon their life.
Life in any language is a short word and aptly reflects just how short our own lives are on this planet. Most of us live within a materialistic society and whilst money may enable us to enjoy certain pleasures and benefits, it should not represent the be-all and end-all of life. Above all, life should be fun, but again, this is not always attainable as life itself imposes so many barriers. For me, life encompasses four key elements which, I believe, everyone deserves to experience at some time in their own life, but which, very often is not the case. These elements are Love, Intimacy, Feeling and Emotion.
THE KEY ELEMENTS OF LIFE
LOVE warm affection, liking or fondness; sexual desire; a relationship between two people; a delightful person
INTIMACY being close in acquaintance; a deep and meaningful friendship; having a sexual relationship
FEELING the sense of touch; sensitivity; sympathy; tenderness for others’ sufferings
EMOTION a disturbance of the mind; an instinctive feeling; excitement; an expression of one’s inner personality
The world in which we live is becoming increasingly violent as politicians and dictators struggle to conquer all at any expense. In the continuous battles for power, innocent people are victimised, made homeless, and even lose their lives; many self-styled world leaders have little or no regard for anyone but themselves and their positions of power. Such barbaric behaviour suggests that their lives lack some, if not all, of these key elements. Undoubtedly, it takes a particular type of person to wage war and engage in ethnic cleansing; namely, a person without love or compassion. So, what is life all about?
Irrespective of one’s background, ethnic origin, or sexuality, everyone should be able to experience the key elements of life. However, it takes a special kind of person to encompass all these attributes; one who does not sit in judgement; one who can see the humour in life; one who is in the world for others and not solely for him or herself. Therefore, love is undoubtedly the most important of these four key elements.
Every individual human being has the right to express themselves; the right to love and to be loved. Generally speaking, most people experience moments of warm affection and become very fond of people who have crossed their paths in life. However, affection can be shallow, and that special person with whom to share life’s ups and downs is missing. I know from bitter personal experience that in times of crisis, individuals can be alone with their thoughts; so-called ‘fair weather’ friends either choose or fail to understand the problems of others, thereby failing to show any caring element within them. After having considerable time upon which to reflect, it becomes obvious that such friends are not, therefore, particularly nice people to know and life is the richer for seeing them in their true colours!
So often in life, times of intimacy and close friendships appear to have hidden agendas attached. Irrespective of one’s overall persona, the vast majority of people will have a sensitive aspect to their character and be affected by other people’s suffering and misfortune, even though they are generally powerless to do anything constructive about them. This does not mean that they do not care, but sometimes things have to be looked at in an objective rather than subjective manner.
The final element is emotion, which basically encompasses all the other elements. As an emotional person I am not ashamed to admit that I find it difficult not to shed a tear whenever particularly sad news is broadcast, such as famine, homelessness, and loss of innocent life. I even react in a similar way when watching some films, even though I know that most are purely fictional.
Today’s world is full of too many people who are quick to pre-judge situations without being in possession of all the facts. Everyone’s life would be enriched by more people who either share or empathise with their thoughts and beliefs; people who are not judgemental; those who accept you for who you are rather than what you are; people who are honest, loyal, trustworthy and sincere. It does not matter whether you are straight or gay, black or white, rich or poor; such labels placed upon people are issues not worth shouting about. Only one thing really matters and that is the inner quality of the person; their unique life!
Despite increasing acceptance, society still has a tendency to stereo-type gay people. However, the vast majority are just normal individuals who happen to be gay and there is no reason whatsoever why they should be denied the right of a fulfilling life encompassing love, intimacy, feeling and emotion. In fact, it is generally acknowledged that sexual preferences are usually a matter of nature, not choice, and trying to steer them away from homosexuality is rather like telling someone that having ginger hair is wrong! There really is no reason why every law-abiding individual should not be treated as equal within the society in which he or she lives.