Why I Am What I Am & You Are What You Are
This was sparked by Seraphyna’s recent LJ post about her Otherkin identity and how it has evolved. (Not unlike my own Evolution of My Therianthropy essay in fact.)
Which got me thinking. Years ago, after I was involved in the therian and Otherkin communities for awhile, I started questioning things. Not just my own beliefs, which I was pretty solid in, but those of people who I only knew by username and by their posts on forums. It became important to question them and to understand why they believed what they did. I was a polite questioner, unlike some other folks, however sometimes the questioning would get out of hand or was misinterpreted and then the individual would leave the forum because they thought they were being “grilled” and not politely questioned. In some cases, where they seemed fluffier than others, the questioning did indeed get heated or was hard for the individual being questioned to deal with. So in those cases, individuals were actually driven away because of their less-than-credible beliefs.
At the time, part of me felt good because we had taught a troll or roleplayer that their ideas were ludicrous and impossible, but another part of me felt bad because shouldn’t everyone be entitled to their individual beliefs? I’m still split with that 50/50. In some cases, an individual is blatantly fluffy and trying to be cool and fit in, and therefore they need a polite nudge into the camp of reason. While in others cases, even polite questioning will cause them to leave the forums because they feel like they were bullied or questioned too much.
So where to draw the line? Obviously we should not take everything everyone online says as absolute truth, but shouldn’t questioning another’s beliefs and identity be encouraged too? As long as it’s done in a non-threatening way and only as a way to help the individual think about their experiences, yes. Demeaning and putting someone else down for a strange way of thinking should not be tolerated any more than extremely fluffy claims are either.
And today, I find myself more in the ‘you believe what you believe and I believe what I believe for our own personal reasons’ group. It doesn’t matter to me so much why someone believes what they do, but more that they do because they experience certain things that have pointed them to that specific conclusion. Besides, who am I to judge? My own experiences point to what an outsider could easily brush off as outlandish and ridiculous but that doesn’t make them any less true for me.
While questioning can be helpful, can even help the individual on their personal journey by truly making them think about their identity, it’s also okay to simply let someone have their personal belief. We all experience some form of personal mythology so really, where’s the harm?
Granted, having nutjobs spouting drivel is nearly impossible to eradicate, and keeping people on track on forums is key to us all better understanding others’ experiences, but in the end, who are we to judge?
So, I am what I am and you are what you are and at the end of the day, that’s the only truth of it.
Originally written January 4, 2012