To Belong

What does it mean to belong?

Have you ever heard of the need to belong theory? The theory describes the idea that humans have a “fundamental motivation to be accepted into relationships with others and to be a part of social groups.” It is a human need to have a relationship of any kind, these relationships should be more positive than negative and have significance to the relationship partners. 

I think the need to belong is something that we can all relate to. My belief of what belonging means is to be accepted as a member within a group – and that people gain a sense of belonging from those social groups. And so, not having a strong sense of belonging is depriving oneself of a basic human demand. 

And so It’s interesting to observe how people group themselves up, as who they choose to be with is a good indication of their sense of self and beliefs.  

When I was reading the graphic novel “They Called Us Enemy”, a graphic novel by George Takei that documents growing up in Japanese concentration camps during World War 2. 

In those concentration camps, people would group themselves up, or be grouped up based on how they held themselves or were perceived. 

As you can see, there was a divide between opinions between those who wanted to prove themselves and those who wanted to prove themselves but felt betrayed by the country they lived in. Both of these are completely valid. But this situation that followed the bombing of Pearl Harbor also had those outside of camps grouping themselves up. 

The Following of Pearl Harbor changed much, with any person of Japanese descent being put in concentration camps. As the Japanese were fiercely hated, all Asian groups suffered. WIth the average white American person categorizing all Asians as looking the same. This even started a trend of Chinese Americans wearing a badge saying “We Hate Them Too”, referring to the Japanese. Bringing down other Asians so as to be included and welcomed by the American people.”

Chinese Americans would label themselves as well, in order to avoid being confused with the Japanese.

This is very sad to me, I’m Asian (Vietnamese-american) myself and if you’re not and don’t know – it comes with a sense of community. All of our cultures are quite similar and our histories intertwine with one another, so much so that I get a sense of belonging within this big group with the label Asian. 

I want you to think about what ‘group’ you belong to, want to belong to, or feel you belong to. How important is it to you?

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