by Master Tatu
(c) April 2005, Revised June 2006 ~ All rights reserved This article is the sole property of the author and CAN NOT be reprinted in any format without express written permission of the author.
We often use the term “community” when referring to the BDSM or Lifestyle practitioners. This “community” we refer to is actually a very vague and subjective concept. It is as it is interpreted in the minds of participants and if you ask 10 people what lifestyle community is; you will get 10 different answers, and still how it is in reality is probably yet another thing. You see there is no accepted hierarchy or ruling body to this “community”. No one is making the rules, so to speak. Our local “support and education” organization is strictly just that and it has been our policy since the beginning that we do not get involved in personal issues or conflicts in the “community”. So “community” is up to the maturity and character of the individuals.
So if “community” is important to us, what makes it a positive and good thing? That is hard to nail down. Community can be built upon numerous ideas and concerns, both good and bad. Sometimes community is built over interests like the “bondagers” or the “spankers” or the “single tail crackers”. Sometimes community is built upon a certain clique of friends, which could be a good thing or a negative thing.
Our local support and educational organization from the beginning was organized with the mission to support and provide good educational opportunities to anyone who wants to learn, so as to strengthen a safer and enjoyable community. What any social group eventually becomes and is identified by will depend upon a number of principles. Here are a few things I hope we would all think about when attempting to define and live in our community.
Non-Judgmentalism. One would think that an alternative sexual lifestyle community would be very liberal and hence non-judgmental and tolerant of all lifestyle expressions, but this is not always the case. It has been surprising to me, how opinionated and fundamentalist some can be in the “lifestyle community”. Judgmentalism develops when a person does not understand others, nor find acceptance in their practices; and therefore finds criticism and a need to try to make others fit into their box. The bottom line is in a community like ours is that “we don’t have to understand or even accept” what other’s do. We should allow for differences and new ideas without moralistic judgment or even negative commentary about what it is “they” do.
Unconditional Positive Regard. Our task if we are to succeed in building a healthy community is to grasp a mature adult demeanor toward others. The phrase Unconditional Positive Regard is a phrase one of my graduate school professors used to define “love”. It has stuck with me all these years.
Gossip, Rumor-mongering, etc… Repeating tales is the best way to disrupt or even destroy community. Have you ever thought about why a certain percentage of any social group, feels it necessary to spread gossip and rumors or just put down others generally?
I remember back in my church-going days there was a certain group of elderly women, who usually sat near the front pew. They were notorious for their viperous tongues in spreading discord, usually by whispering behind other people’s backs. If there is one thing that I have found that has consistently driven people out of the community it is the “talk”. Someone assaulted their character by spreading some untruth, and so they packed up their bags, reasoning they did not need to subject themselves to that kind of crap. Or others just pull back into their own small group where they feel safe from the B.S.
Having studied psychology and sociology in my undergraduate and graduate studies, we come to understand that some people just have a need to stir things up for a number of reasons, here are a few to think on:
1) A pathological need for drama. For some people, their lives would just not be complete if there was not something melodramatic constantly going on. Trouble is they suck us dry of all of our energy. These are called “energy vampires”.
2) Low self-esteem often leads one to put down or try and drag down others, because they don’t like themselves. Subconsciously they reason if they can pull someone down by making negative comments about them, it makes them feel better about their own lack of self-esteem.
3) Self-guilt. Often persons who have a lot to hide put up smoke screens, by casting aspersions on others in some negative way, in order to hide what they themselves are guilty of or lack in ability.
4. Con Games. Sometimes people just like messing with others, in a negative sense. They get their jollies out of non-consensual con games. They love to just stir it up. It gives them power, albeit a misuse of power, in their minds.
5. Over inflated sense of self-importance. Some feel that their way is superior to others and have the need to try and straighten everyone else out. This of course is ego out of control.
So the next time you hear someone carrying tales assassinating someone else’s character, or putting down someone else’s way of doing things, remember that person is usually describing themselves, a lack of their own character or ability. So smile, consider the folly of their words and take it with a grain of salt, decipher fact from fiction, put them on ignore, move on and have fun.
Unfortunately we are not that different from the population at large. We in the lifestyle community have our old biddy’s sitting on the front pew, whispering and creating divisions by stirring the pot.
South Florida is not unique to this. In recent years I have had the opportunity to share with a number of communities around the country of all sexual orientations and it’s the same everywhere.
It is sad, however, to look around and see groups meeting here and there, people who used to be good friends, who now won’t speak to each other or be at the same party with “so and so”.
Perhaps what we need is a revival of simple practices such as common courtesy, respect, caring and compassion.
Everyone is entitled to a certain level of common interpersonal courtesy and politeness simply because we are human and share in a common lifestyle community. Respect, however is earned with good interpersonal behavior and honesty in one’s dealing within the community. To expect or demand respect just because you decide you should have it is folly. The level of respect one holds is always changing and can be lost by poor behavior.
Integrity, which is maintaining the consistency between what one says or does in private and in public, is a goal we all should strive for. Those who walk with integrity will undoubtedly earn the respect of their lifestyle community brethren. Building community is hard work.
So we have to decide; if we truly want to work at community, here are some thoughts you might find worth thinking about:
1) Be committed to truthfulness and not get sucked into the gossip mill.
2) Decide now to live your life with courtesy, compassion and integrity.
3) Don’t judge others, lest you be judged. You don’t need to understand or even agree with other people’s kinks, nor is your way the only or best way. But we do need to accept everyone unconditionally and with a positive mind, because without courtesy, politeness, integrity and respect, there is no community, just competing egos and a degenerating social structure.
4) If there are interpersonal problems, have the courage and integrity to go to the person face to face and talk it out and purpose to get whatever the problem is resolved. Consider bringing in a mediator to assist with communications and resolve differences of understanding. Unless they are an RSO, child molester, rapist, serial killer or known abuser in the community, there is no excuse for not working it out.
Refusing common courtesy and giving others “the silent treatment” is the height of egotistical and disrespectful behavior and only shows how childish some people really are. There is no greater shame on a community than to see this type of behavior among so-called adults.
In Closing The bottom line is that people become a meaningful part of a “community” if it has value and people enjoy being a part of it. When it stops being fun, they go away. Protect what you hold important, do not let deception block your way towards the truth, and make a difference so others may cherish the community that has brought meaning to your life.
Finally, I must say however, don’t lose your personal tranquility over it all. One of the lessons I have learned in studying Aikido, a martial art that literally means, “The Way of Peace”, is that when one truly walks in their own personal harmony, expect attacks from those who have no peace in their own souls. Community is a wonderful thing, but don’t lose your way or your own sense of harmony in the process.