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Do you BELONG?

I met the most fascinating man recently. Ray and his caucasian wife Barb lived on the edges of wild Alaska for many decades. They lived with wolves, dog sledded across the winter wilderness; survived frostbite and plane crashes and still found a way to contribute to healing the environment and save hundreds of miles of coastline from the Exxon Valdez disaster. They spoke of being given names and adopted by Inuit people in their region. These Inuit people knew the necessity interdependence as their survival depended on it. Their credo was that when one went hungry, the whole village went hungry. They knew that survival depended on each other. All Belonged and participated in the rituals and practices that allowed them to thrive even today as an ancient culture. To be given a name in their culture was a very high honor that few whites would ever experience. I could have listened to this gentle man’s outrageous stories all night. Ray and Barb knew the first lesson that most original cultures know, RESPECT.

We’ve all heard the African proverb that it takes a village to raise a child. I’d like to offer an audacious friendly amendment…’that is takes a village to raise a child; it takes a village to raise a family; it takes a village to raise a village’. We’ve revered ‘independence’ as a high virtue and maybe to the detriment of our own well being. Asking for help is often a sign of weakness. It certainly continues to be an unhealthy truth for me, and many others who I know.

Maybe embracing intergenerational interdependence is our next step in human evolution.

In chatting with a man this week, he shared his social anxieties and sometimes phobia about relating with others. Most, including me sometimes experience discomfort with meeting others fearing that we will be judged; or that it takes too much energy; they’ll want something from us; or some other known or unknown reason. This man would rather be alone than face others. Occasionally, I can relate to that too. Balancing that risk of being social with the accompanying anxiety versus the need to be social is a stress that lives in many of us.

We do know that we humans are social creatures. As social beings we thrive best when we belong to family or like minded group where our shared values and needs are met. I suspect that many of our modern depressions and anxieties have their root in not having a culture or group where we know we belong. When we don’t share a rich and ancient culture, we suffer and often will try to destroy or steal another’s. Someone who has an embodied sense of belonging enjoys a rare and precious life. And when this someone has this sense of belonging they are more likely to contribute to the whole in a healthy manner. Belonging suggests an inherent responsibility to contribute to the whole; to not isolate nor strive to meet only our own needs. We become generous. When your survival and happiness are as important as my own, we all thrive. That is the new and coming future if we don’t destroy ourselves before.

I’m so impressed with the medicine and power their is in Community to take care of each other.

The inherent challenge I offer is to get out; share your inner self when it safe, and find a place to belong. Get curious about others; serve in some capacity whether church, synagogue or 12 step meeting; club or class. Talk with friends daily and get away from Netflix and other social media that may be robbing you of life. And, I need to step up to this challenge also. Thanks for who you are.