Why home is so important to us:
Be it “There’s no place like home” or “Home is where the heart is”, phrases we’ve grown up hearing time and again, known expressions indicating that home is some place that exists not only in a physical location but also in our hearts. Across several cultures and over the years people of varied backgrounds have made homes for themselves and their near and dear. Humans have evolved to home builders, homemakers and home-nesters.
Our dwellings are a representative of our past and way of living.
When the word ‘home’ comes to your mind you think of a gathering place, a shelter, a sanctuary and your portal to escape the busyness of everyday life. Homes are pretty much the anchors of our existence, without our homes we feel alienated and estranged and due to these reasons it makes sense to assume that home is an endless source of universally positive feelings.
The concept of home is construed differently by different groups all over the world, our language, our culture, our etiquettes are what shape our home.
Although homes are mostly perceived as a positive space, it has also been found that many individuals equate their home to negative or mixed emotions from experiences of home life. To embrace all nuances of meaning, outlook, lifestyle and feeling that attach to home is a daunting task, but it greatly enriches our perspective on the world.
For the majority of us, home relates to a loving and supportive environment, a place where we grew up and discovered ourselves. Most people will have more than one home in their lifetimes and if the primary one had hints of negativity towards it, there is always chance for creating a better experience.
However, this is not as easy as it sounds for those whose memory of home is of an oppressive or abusive situation from which escape is a desperate imperative. But even for those, where home is peaceful and loving it is also a political sphere wherein we must negotiate our rights, privileges, make compromises and seek empowerment through validation.
As an ideal that exists in the imagination, and in dreams and wish fulfilments, home carries many and varied symbolic meanings embedded in the physical design of houses and projected onto them by the belief systems within which our lives play out.
The landscape, geopolitical location, the people who live with us, and material possessions with which we furnish our home space are essential aspects of the place where we dwell.
Complex interactions with all of these elements give definition to home as we see it. And as we define home, we also define ourselves in relation to it.
In recent times, home has become a more problematic notion, not only because of everyday encounters with our homeless fellow citizens, but also because of the great increase in immigrants, refugees, asylum-seekers, and victims of natural disasters in many parts of the world.
Given the strong meanings and emotional associations that home has for us, those who have lost their homes and the things they most valued, or who have never had a proper home in the first place, face psychological impacts and identity crises of massive proportions.
Being without a home is devastating on personal, social, and many other levels. The issues raised by homelessness exist on a world scale, and will be aggravated by climate change and rising populations. In the end, they can only be dealt with through united effort driven by compassion and dedication.
On the hopeful side of things, many immigrants have been welcomed into new countries for some time, and have made successful and rewarding lives there for themselves, as well as broadening the experience and culture of their adopted homelands.
Living in the space age and the age of greater environmental awareness, we are also collectively making the first steps toward appreciating the Earth we share as our ultimate home, and as the place above all that we need to respect and protect.
Thinking about home takes us into our inner selves, to be sure, but it also encourages us to look at things in their totality.
Why is home so important to us, then? Because for better or worse, by presence or absence, it is a crucial point of reference—in memory, feeling, and imagination—for inventing the story of ourselves, our life-narrative, for understanding our place in time.
But it is also a vital link through which we connect with others and with the world and the universe at large.