For whatever reason, this word has kept floating through my mind lately. You may recall from some course along the way that it means, simply put, “the ability or tendency to maintain internal stability in an organism to compensate for environmental changes. An example of homeostasis is the human body keeping an average temperature of 98.6 degrees.” homeostasis definition sociology – Search (bing.com)
But this word has broader implications for the upheaval and division we are now encountering in society. I recall in some upper-level sociology course in college, the professor’s describing a family in therapy who had become quite dysfunctional in the midst of the problems they were experiencing. He asked what might be your first question. I responded that I would ask when was the last time things were going well and what was different in their lives then. This, in a nutshell, is how I understand what is happening in our world now.
There is a drive toward “homeostasis,” toward what feels like “how it used to be when life felt more nearly normal.” The problem isthat what felt more like normal to me, to which I struggle to return, is different, sometimes vastly so, from other folks’ experience of “normal,” to which they struggle to return. These are often opposing visions which means my efforts can clash with those of others as they seek to find their “homeostasis.” We have a shortage of tolerance for each other’s difficulties and are quick to see “the other” as evil. Admittedly, it is currently hard to find common ground.
However, I recall reading a book some years back called Conservatize Me by John Moe, a professed liberal who sought to immerse himself for a year in conservative circles in an effort to learn more about this worldview and those who espoused it. He discovered he could find some common ground. I remember admiring him for his willingness to challenge himself to expand his understanding in the way that he did. I prefer that to name calling, threatening, even resorting to violence in the face of what we find offensive.
May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter. Shalom, Kate
Hope’s Café Bonus: I once witnessed a counter protester at a peace rally with a sign “Peace Sucks.” I thought: really??? Later, when I was called on to speak at a rally myself, I said that I considered there was some merit to what the counter protester posted because, I said, peace requires us to go within ourselves and confront our own capacity for hostility or even violence. We likely prefer to think of ourselves above that. Maybe that means we need to look more deeply.