I had originally planned to begin this blog in May but, as it has a way of doing, life altered those plans.
My father died in June. A simple statement to write, although, it does not quite cover the effect it has had on my life, psyche and outlook-- but then, maybe for the initiated it does.
The loss of a parent, though experienced differently by everyone, does contain some universal experience. When you lose a parent it is like you are initiated into a very large, very quiet club. Members know that there is nothing that can be said, nothing that can be done to "fix it." Most simply offer their sympathy, a shoulder and a safe quiet place. It is comforting to know that when I mention the bouts of seemingly unexplained crying, laughter and numbness it will be met with a knowing and non-judgmental smiles.
It reminds me that as unique as we like to thing we are, life is made up of universal moments and experiences. Almost everyone will feel love, grief and heartache and although everyone will have their own specific experiences, the general does exist. The general is what we draw from when we empathize with others and frankly I think that our society does not place enough importance on empathy. We tend to focus on our differences and what we think makes us individuals and dismiss the more universal cultural and social experience.
For me, this is the appeal of sociology. We can make general statements about the social world based on the commonalities; what is "generalizable." As sociologists we use scientific methods (analyzing and collecting quantitative and qualitative data, conducting observations, interviews, surveys and experiments) to determine what is generalizable about experience within a group or sub-group. We can then use these findings to have a greater understanding of the world around us.
I suppose the purpose of this blog is to keep writing, about the issues, research interests and events that I care about. I will aggregate writings from other blogs, news sources and books, as well as write original pieces and incorporate original work from guest writers. I hope the common thread between all of the pieces will be that they will allow the reader to see the larger picture, to look beyond their own lives and see how we all mold and are molded by the social world.
We are not as different as we think.