Tuesday, 16 September 2014

I Diverge

Do you remember how I recently read Divergent by Veronica Roth and how I felt I identified with the idea of being Divergent, especially the way I feel my way of thinking doesn't fit in with the norm, well I was sharing these thoughts with some members of my church at my small church group.  One of the members challenged me on this idea asking if I really was divergent, he gave some examples of ways in which I conform to society's norms such as being married and having children and owning and living in a house, he said that growing a few veggies on the allotment don't make me divergent.  I wasn't offended because I have known this man for several years, and in our group we are not afraid to challenge each other, but it did make me think, am I really divergent? Or do I just like the idea of it? After some deliberation in my mind I decided that, I am divergent, and do you know what, I wish everyone else was too!  I want to use this opportunity to explain why and how:

  • Christianity - Of those in the UK who identify themselves as religious, Christianity is still the most common religion so in that sense I am not unusual, however only 15% of the population attend church at least once a month, so again I am in a minority in terms of actually practicing my faith by attending church (although admittedly I probably only manage that minimum figure).  Of course I think it would be great if everyone could experience the love of Jesus, and my Church family would be even bigger! 

  • Breastfeeding - I still breastfeed my 29 month old in the morning and evening and exclusively breastfed my nearly 10 month old till he was 6 months old and still feed him on demand now. Nationally exclusive breastfeeding at 6 months is just 1%.  I think that puts me in the minority! I am passionate about breastfeeding and volunteer for a breastfeeding charity to help women who want to breastfeed.  Studies show that breastfed infants are less sick as adults, sick adults cost the NHS money so I am willing to hazard a guess that if everyone who wanted to breastfeed but was let down by a lack of support, had been given appropriate support enabling them to breastfeed, there would be a pretty substantial saving in health costs, and possibly an increase in happiness of mothers who wrongly feel it was their fault. 

  • Full Time Mother - 66.5% of mothers work either part or full time so again I am in the minority, though only just.  But to put this figure into perspective for me personally, of my female friends who are mothers I only know of one who has not gone back to work or isn't currently planning on going back to work, so in my little world I feel very divergent in this sense, and there is definitely a societal expectation that I will be going back to work. Data indicates that 75% of new mothers would like to be able to stay home so if all mothers who wanted to stay home with their children could then that would mean an increase of 41.5% of mothers.  Possibly resulting in an increase in happiness for those mothers!

  • Vegetarian - Only 2.5% of the population are vegetarians!  Need I say any more?  If everyone became vegetarian there would be an overall increase in the health of the population, a reduction in animal cruelty, a reduction in emissions, a saving of water, and a saving of the Amazon (the Amazon rainforest is being de-forested to make way for land to plant beans and grains to feed animals which are subsequently used as meat.) link

I could go on about the ways in which I am divergent from the norm in our society, I could mention things such as the way I try to live minimally and away from commercialism, the way I try to buy organic, unprocessed food, how I had a home birth, how we use cloth nappies and co-sleep, how we recycle our plastics and do you know what?   I do like being in a minority, it makes me feel a bit special and a bit different, I have always done things to make myself feel different, whether that has been wearing slightly alternative clothes, listening to different music or eating my placenta (love people's faces when I tell them that one!) but what I would really love is for everyone to be divergent, for everyone to think outside the box, question the norm, and try to find a better way to help each other and the planet.

It's much easier to just go along with the status quo and to live in our little bubbles. It's less challenging to our consciences.  It's easy to not be connected to other people, the earth or animals and I am as guilty as anyone else for sometimes not separating my paper and plastics properly, or using my car when I could have walked (I am imperfectly natural afterall) and the point of this post isn't to say "look how great I am" or "I am so perfect" or "everything would be just dandy if you did it my way".  I am not saying that I am perfect or that my way is perfect and right for everyone, and I am not saying that the ways that I am divergent make me better than anyone else, but what I am saying is lets all think more about why we make the choices we do, are they really the best choice for us? our children? the world? Or are we just choosing something because it's what everyone else does? For me that is what being Divergent is all about - thinking twice, not to be better than anyone else but to be better than the me I was yesterday, to make my world a better place for us all and for everyone who comes after us. I am not going to stop at these little ways in which I am different, I will, with God's help, always be trying to make myself a better version of me.

Do you Diverge?  Maybe you have chosen not to have children, maybe you live in a caravan or boat instead of a house, maybe you decided not to get married and these are the ways you diverge, and I salute you for that because you are thinking twice, you are thinking outside the box and I would love to hear more about it, because, you know, as much as I like to feel unique, it's nice to not feel alone sometimes.

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