The New “Normal” or What is Normal?

I just read a comment on another blog that made me think about language again, and this time I want to discuss the concept of “Normal”.

The comment was this:

What annoys me deeply in many cases is the effort of (some members of) the LGBT group to convince the world that theirs is the “normal” way. What do I mean with this? Male + Male = No Procreation. Female + Female = No Procreation. No Procreation = No Life Renewed. And I don’t speak of modern artificial means — I’m talking about human nature, which has not changed.

I don’t want my child or other people’s chidren get brainwashed into thinking that homosexual is “right.” Homosexual just exists in this world and we have no reason to be mean and dictate to others how they should live their lives.

I get what she is saying in the idea that the laws of nature require a male and a female for procreation. However, in this abundant natural world variations occur, naturally.  I’m not a scientist. But, just my basic high school biology taught me that there is variation depending on genetics. Using the fun and completely nerdy website Wordnik, I found this definition of normal in terms of biology:

. In biology, a species or race considered as a fixed standard which individual organisms may approach by heredity and from which they may recede by variation. The conception of a normal is statistical rather than biological, for there is no evidence that an exceptional specimen of a species differs, as such, from an average specimen in any essential or qualitative way. The notion of a species as a fixed standard belongs to the pre-Darwinian period in the history of biology.

(Click on this link for the many definitions of Normal)

So, if I am reading this correctly, variation is normal.

Yet, there are many people in our world who seem to want to define the NORM as one thing and one thing only. In those minds Normal=Right, and Different=Wrong.

The terms are not synonymous. Right and wrong are moral terms, based off of our individual interpretations of the world. Yes, we can probably agree on some basic tenets of right vs. wrong, but we break those every day. That’s evident.

Normal and different are not related to morals. The are just ways by which we can communicate how we perceive the world, which again relates to our individual interpretations of the world.

There is no truth. There is no norm. There is just perception.

I am the first to admit that I don’t have a”normal” life, whatever that might be. My life, at the moment, seems more like a confusing mess– a carnival ride gone out of control. But, despite my ups and downs, the craziness is part of my normal.

My norm lies in difference.

Perhaps we need to get rid of the term “normal” and use something else. I don’t know what term can replace it, but there has to be a way to celebrate diversity rather than try to make everyone and everything the same.

I would love diversity to be the face of the Norm.

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33 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Stuart Nager
    May 10, 2012 @ 09:30:28

    As someone who has been judged throughout his life for seeing & approaching how I live in an off kilter type of way, I agree. I don’t like playing “the game”, and I shouldn’t have to. I would like to be accepted for the person I am, not what someone else thinks I should be.

    Glad my post inspired you. Yes, we do think alike.

    Reply

  2. Julie Frayn
    May 10, 2012 @ 09:36:18

    Excellent post, Lisa! Norm is a statistical measure also. The person who’s comment you quoted would have to include singles who never marry or marrieds who never procreate as outside her normal. Statistically, if all beings are allowed to be who they are, love who they love, live how they want to live – the world would still be overpopulated by those who exist in the “norm” – the bell curve of us boring old heterosexual baby-makers. :D

    You’ve captured me with two posts this morning! Awesome. Now I am late for work… :)

    Reply

  3. Victoria-writes
    May 10, 2012 @ 09:59:23

    Normal is overrated. No one is normal. And it’s scary when some people think they live the perfect life, shout about it then turn out to have more secrets and issues that the people they class as abnormal!

    Reply

    • Lisa Wields Words
      May 10, 2012 @ 10:02:18

      The stranger they are, the more normal they try to appear. Especially if their quirks are somewhat on the dark side. I think I shall keep my differences out in the open. I have nothing to hide. ;)

      Reply

  4. thelifeofjamie
    May 10, 2012 @ 10:47:43

    I saw a great thing on FB the other day that said: “I can’t for the life of me imagine that God would say I will punish you because you are black; you should have been white. I will punish you because you are a woman; you should have been a man. I will punish you because you are a homosexual, you should have been heterosexual. I can’t for the life of me believe that’s how God see’s things.”- Archbishop Desmond Tutu

    Reply

  5. Trackback: For The Life of Me too… « The Life of Jamie
  6. lisaspiral
    May 10, 2012 @ 13:02:05

    Great post. The truly interesting thing about the statistics of “norm” is that you can have a norm that does not have a corresponding data point. e.g.: if your data is 2 and 1 and 6 and 7 the norm is 4. Biodiversity is the way God made it. It’s humans who try to narrow the scope down to one or two “acceptable” forms.

    Reply

  7. joannevalentinesimson
    May 10, 2012 @ 13:16:24

    Good post. And, from a biologist’s point of view, the greater the diversity in a species, the greater the chance of long-term survival! Some traits work in some environments and others work in other environments. Long live diversity!

    Reply

  8. Kathryn McCullough
    May 10, 2012 @ 15:35:59

    Love this, Lisa–especially since I am SOOOOOOOOO far from “normal” in most regards. I feel so far from the center of the bell curve, I can’t even hear the damn thing ringing.
    Hugs,
    Kathy

    Reply

  9. Taochild
    May 10, 2012 @ 15:43:17

    The comment caught my eye too and I was going to run with it at some point as well. Once again you beat me to it haha.

    Reply

  10. Dana
    May 10, 2012 @ 20:56:47

    The word ‘normal’ is a terribly slippery one. I once took a psych class called “Abnormal Psychology”. Most of the course was spent talking about how “ab/normal” aren’t the best words to use because of the moral connotations. However, the class was still named Abnormal Psych! Surely there is something else to call it…. diversity, plurality, etc.

    Reply

  11. 4amWriter
    May 10, 2012 @ 21:01:07

    Great post. I am currently in an argument with my mother over this very issue. She is against gay marriage; I support it. I don’t see why anyone thinks they are so superior to tell someone else who they can marry (esp. when the divorce rate of heterosexuals is so damn high). My mother’s response, “because it’s not in the Bible.”

    Four days running, we have attempted this argument in fits and starts and neither of us is budging. It’s been a long week.

    Reply

    • Lisa Wields Words
      May 11, 2012 @ 10:02:48

      I don’t envy you that argument. Unless you can find a convincing something that “is not in the Bible” that she still does and accepts and can make her see the hypocrisy. Multiple marriages are in the Bible.

      I’m not really sure where my parents stand on this issue, and I’m not even going to ask.

      Reply

  12. Andra Watkins
    May 11, 2012 @ 11:04:43

    God forbid I ever become normal………….

    Reply

  13. Kathy
    May 11, 2012 @ 19:24:19

    Lisa, I honor you that you recognize that your “craziness” is your normal. It took me many years to truly recognize this. May we all relax into who we are, fully and whole-heartedly. What a lovely blog!

    Reply

  14. Piglet in Portugal
    May 12, 2012 @ 09:46:58

    I’m not sure what normal is, but to me it is not normal for a same sex couple to adopt a child and bring it up. I think this will affect the childs perception of normal.
    ie Man meets woman, fall in love or not, have sex, conceive, have child. How can anything else be normal in this context?

    Someone I know, her son is in a homosexual relationship. Mother buys them a baby (surrogate mother) I feel sorry for the child. I hasten to add I’m not against gay marriages etc but there has to be bounderies.

    God created Adam and Eve, not two Adams or two Eves.Adam and Eve defines normal to me.

    The above may be the extreme as to what normal is. Some marriages where both partners have affairs is not normal…but to the couple concerned it may be.

    To me it’s not normal for women of certain religions and origins to be treated as second class citizens. But they accept it as normal as they often know, no better :(

    Reply

    • Lisa Wields Words
      May 12, 2012 @ 11:54:17

      I know several children being raised by gay parents, and their perceptions of reality are no different then any other children of their age. They are surrounded by images of heterosexual love in all aspects of society. As long as they are being raised in a loving household, I don’t think it really matters. At the same time, I’ve met plenty of children being destroyed by the so-called “normal” relationships of their heterosexual parents. If anything, the gay parents I know are more aware of talking to their child about relationships in all forms, not to encourage them to “become gay” but so that they are aware of what it means to commit, to love, to be with someone else, to have a child, etc. Last summer, when Sarah was asked to sleep over with a lesbian couples daughter, my friend asked if Sarah was aware of their relationship. I made sure to talk about it with Sarah, not to protect her, but so she knew. She came home the same Sarah she left.

      The whole point, I guess, is normal is what you make it. In your idea Adam and Eve is normal, but I would also argue that, if you believe that God created all things, then that includes creating all the diversity that exists. To say otherwise suggests that God makes mistakes.

      I don’t think any life is a mistake. There are some cruel people who I wonder why they exist (or existed) but even negativity offers lessons to us all. We are not born mistakes, but we might make choices that lead to mistakes. I don’t include homosexuality in that, because I don’t see it as a choice.

      Reply

      • Piglet in Portugal
        May 12, 2012 @ 14:09:42

        Hi Lisa, I respect your comment, but I think on this occassion pls can we agree to disagree…? I am considering normal. Children are conceived by a man and a woman. Dana makes a good comment “The word ‘normal’ is a terribly slippery one” .

        I am not against gay marriage BTW :) However, I do I struggle when I see men in the street (in the UK) tongues down each others throat as to whether this is normal. Perhaps my generation (I am in my early 50’s) and went to a strict convent school feel differently. The nuns had a very narrow view on life but as I’ve grown older I’ve tried hard to keep an open mind in an ever changing society. However, some things I witness set my moral compass way off course, and almost in a spin.
        i try hard not to judge, but I don’t have to embrace it.

        I am the first to admit God is not perfect in that he also created those who commit terrible crimes. Were these pour souls influenced by those around them or were they born that way? Ponderous…

        Reply

  15. Miranda Gargasz
    May 12, 2012 @ 22:14:31

    I want to thank you for this post. As someone who has always felt very far left of center it’s nice to know that there are folks out there willing to allow some give in definition of “normal.”

    Did you ever wach the West Wing? I offer up this link for your perusal.

    Reply

  16. Trackback: A bunch of questions … | The odd ramblings of a mind that does not quite fit
  17. Geoff
    May 13, 2012 @ 21:45:39

    Funny, when I was growing up everyone wanted to be ‘normal’ but noone wanted to be ‘average’. It’s true: normal means variation. Children respond to a loving and nurturing household whether that means two mums or two dad’s or one of each.

    Reply

  18. Trackback: Moving On Up « My Pathetic Attempts At Love

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