Alternative lifstyles with tolerance

Alternative implies something that is different than the norm. One of the challenges in defining alternative lifestyles is that it becomes more challenging every day to determine the norm.

One explanation that is used to help clarify the norm is traditional. Traditional would be considered the norm. Contemporary would be an adjustment to the traditional. Alternative would be considered an extreme deviation from the traditional. Obviously, it is a process. Eventually, the alternative becomes the norm.

Oftentimes, society resists alternative lifestyles. Change is not easy. There is a common fear of the unknown. It would be a better situation if there were less fear and more tolerance for alternative solutions. People can find an alternative lifestyle distasteful and still be respectful and tolerant. Looking into the past can give a helpful example.

In a small town in Montana a bus arrived. It was full of people the locals called “tree huggers.” They practiced a strict environmentally-friendly lifestyle very different from the one the locals practiced. From the point of view of the locals, these were people from a far away city who had no idea about the balance and nature of their world and they wanted to turn Montana into a wilderness area. The locals were correct.

The visitors were on a mission to educate the locals and show them how they were harming the balance of nature and taking perhaps even eliminating complete species of life with their reckless lifestyle. Places with these kind of resources need to be protected. The visitors were correct.

If both groups can have respectful dialog and come to a place in the middle, everyone wins.

Recently, a band teacher asked students if they any adult relatives who could help chaperone an event. One young man volunteered. “I am sure that my mom’s boyfriend’s dad’s second wife can do it. Does she count?” While the situation may not be the norm yet it certainly portrays a slice of contemporary. There is a couple living together, not married and children in the home. There was a divorce in the family of the boyfriend and his father remarried. There is a new wife whom the young boy considers family, even though there are no blood or legal ties. The new wife considers them family as well. The norm is changing.

Vegans are still considered those who are living an alternative lifestyle. Atheists could still be considered an alternative lifestyle. Same sex marriages are considered an alternative. In the United States, 17 states and the District of Columbia allow same sex marriages. Ten states don’t allow them, but recognize them as legal when performed elsewhere. Seven states currently have legislation on the books to be voted on or challenged in the courts.

There are thousands of alternative lifestyles whereby the people just quietly enjoy their lifestyle. They are trying to involve others with education or information. They are not trying to change the bias. They are simply living their life. The opposite is true as well. It does not need to be a matter of right or wrong. People can simply choose to call it different.