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Saturday, July 9, 2016

Belonging to the...


The truth is: Belonging starts with self-acceptance. Your level of belonging, in fact, can never be greater than your level of self-acceptance, because believing that you are enough is what gives you the courage to be authentic, vulnerable and imperfect.”
Brene Brown

Having a sense of tribe is critical to human happiness. Most modern humans, particularly in the western world, do not think of themselves as tribal, but we all form tribes. We gather around us people who agree with us, who like us well enough to spend time with us, and who mirror back to us how we think and feel. When we are with these people, we have the sense of kinship and acceptance that pack animals need—and we are, indeed, pack animals.

My sons went to a private school that was multi-ethnic and diverse in its population. The common denominator was that students had to test into the school, and their parents had to be able to pay the tuition. While I was married to a physician, I was one of the pack there. When we separated and then divorced, I was no longer allowed to run with the pack. Now I was an outcast, invisible, no longer part of the that particular tribe. I felt like an interloper, a shadow on the wall. I listened while the mothers talked to one another as though I was not there. I experienced first hand the sudden lack of enthusiasm on the part of the staff at seeing me. I did not have the courage to confront them, because I did not have enough sense of myself to feel I deserved better treatment. Instead, I developed a simmering anger and resentment.

Imagine, if you can, what our minority populations have experienced for hundreds of years. This sense of not belonging, of being shunned and side-lined as “not one of us” is devastating. Buying into inferiority, accepting second-class citizenship leads to depression, then anger, and finally, to defiance. Sooner or later, they either become part of the tribe, or they turn on the tribe and wreak havoc. That's what we're seeing today.

After hundreds of years of being an underdog, gaining self-acceptance, and thus belonging, is hard and slow going. It takes personal work on an emotional level. All parties have to want to become part of the solution, and that requires self-searching, and taking responsibility for our role in a very well-established human drama. We have to change the way things have always been and to do that, we have to work together—as one tribe.

                                                            In the Spirit,


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