“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with….” Jim Rohn
The people we belong to and spend time with make us who we are. They develop in us the habits of our consciousness and cement our values. Most people don’t realize how the actions of belonging itself are action verbs, a series of small but deliberate choices that defines how we live- and attach -not only in our relationships but in the world at large. It is a phenomenon that we are born into with our family as our initial tribe which indelibly imprints our perceptions of the world. Yet, as we mature, we are impelled to question and by doing so have the opportunity to redefine not only our earliest value structures, but the very meaning of belonging. Ultimately, choosing the right friends and colleagues will define our days and direct our destiny.
Choosing who we identify with as friends and colleagues speaks volumes about how we feel about ourselves and the world we live in. The top five relationships that dominate our time, direct our thinking in ways big and small. The voices in our head are a direct reflection of these primary relationships and influence everything from food choices to recreation interests to daily habits of production. Our tribe whether chosen, inherited or some combination of both are the foundation to how we feel about ourselves and everyone else. This came crystal clear to me last week when I watched the frightening reporting from Charlottesville. This clash about our deepest human values of inclusion and worthiness have been a battleground for as long as we have existed as a nation, and truly define the short history of the human race on this planet.
Thinking about these conflicts of who deserves the most, who is less worthy for considerations of equality as a tribal issue is illuminating. We know that in our caveman days, the experience of belonging to the tribe was a matter of life and death. No caveman could survive alone, so being thrown out of the tribe was tantamount to certain death. Clearly, our primal need of belonging still controls human consciousness. And now with the power of digital processing to strengthen our tribal consciousness whether to create silos of hatred or communities seeking equal protection under the law will either unite or divide us.
Witnessing physical force and deliberate inflicted harm in protests reminds us that our digital affiliations to facebook groups represent real live tribes. The question is how do these tribes care for their members- do white supremacist groups help each other jump their dead battery on a cold winter morning like members of black lives matter groups do? I don’t know how hatred feeds tribes, although I suspect it banks on collective fear. And the love that is lost to brandishing fear drives its way deep into the hearts of each individual member. Are those hearts lost to the possibility of love- do Klan members have family picnics? How far does the heart have to close to believe deeply in hatred and live by fear?
We know that reconciliation, that any kind of coming together is only possible through love. We have had a few masterful teachers on this earth who lifted their tribes above fear and stood in the strength of love against the hatred that undermines our collective humanity. Although, Martin Luther King Jr. was a mighty leader, it was the courage of the tribe that created a civil rights movement that changed the direction of the world. We may lament the absence of strong leadership these days, but it is the power of the tribe that will win the day and the legacy of what it is to be human on earth.
I say choose with a heart of love.