One of my teachers offered this idea:
Imagine being born into this world and being seen by everyone in the community as a cargo bay containing precious goodies that no one else carries, and these goodies are needed by the community. Also no training, diploma, or certification is necessary, we are seen as being born with the diploma and all the credentials necessary to take up this unique purpose of giving these gifts to everyone. Further our community recognizes and acknowledges and celebrates us for our giftedness, before we achieve or accomplish anything. There is something about being seen in this way that elevates a human being in a way that is very exhilarating.
Once this idea got a hold of me I haven’t been able to let it go, and even more so when I learned that all our ancestors used to live this way. Seeing the absence of this where I grew up the dysfunction is obvious, as we often came together to discourage, ridicule, and shame everyone out of our uniqueness and individuality. The message seemed clear that our goodies or gifts aren’t welcomed or needed here. None of us knew how to welcome or appreciate differences, I suspect the fear was that if someone had a unique and valuable talent they would abandon us. Rightly so as once I started reclaiming my talents I moved away. I needed my gifts to be welcomed, appreciated, and celebrated, and I didn’t know how to follow my passion in a place that didn’t see me as a gift. I tried to share this wisdom with my family and friends and invited them to join me and they wanted no part of it. I felt I was (am?) viewed as being crazy, lazy, selfish, and or foolishly unrealistic.
We live in single family homes, the word single tells me we are separated or divorced from our tribe.
So here we are a village of 2 trying to raise children and perform all the roles that used to be handled by dozens of people. My wife and I are previously married so for us the marriage success rate is fifty percent. For me it’s no surprise that so many marriages and families are broken, how can we have sustainable nourishing relationships when we have lost our support system?
I have heard that indigenous cultures don’t have a word for divorce in their language. This tells me that our ancestors had a 100% marriage success rate. It’s my understanding that the unconscious belief behind divorce is blame – “my partner is the problem and I’ll be better off without them”. Indigenous cultures believe that everything is inside us and that our partners serve as mirrors allowing us to see ourselves reflected in them. Since we cannot escape ourselves divorce was viewed as insane and it would be pointless to leave a marriage. In a village we are surrounded by counselors, life coaches, spiritual guides, healers, seers, and such, and so within this supportive framework the challenges that come up in a marriage are manageable.
The best definition of marriage I’ve heard is that it’s a vehicle for spiritual growth. Fueling and maintaining this vehicle is the function of a healthy community. Our tribe is the support system that allows us to live our life purpose and maintain the healthy relationships we need be true to ourselves. To feel loved, appreciated, welcomed, valued, and maybe most importantly belonging. My understanding is that functional communities don’t have the problems of obesity, heart attacks, cancer, diabetes, dementia, Alzheimer’s, depression, and all the other modern dis-eases that are merely symptoms of a culture that has forgotten how to take care of each other. Need or want proof?
I look to nature and see no hospitals nor doctors nor grocery stores and yet the animals, birds, fish, and plants have vibrant functional health.
Sound to good to be true? I have heard it said that when people come together they rub up against each other and this causes friction and it’s the friction that polishes the stone. So coming together is easy, the challenging part is staying together once the friction starts and we keep hitting bumps in the road. Our current cultural brainwashing teaches us to value the go it alone rugged individual and makes it even harder to form healthy communities.
Our entire society from top to bottom is built on the belief of punishment as the way to right perceived wrongs and as an effective deterrent. I say perceived “wrongs” because our ancestors believed that everyone is inherently good and well intentioned and that any misbehavior is a welcome signal that the system has gone off track. Blaming and punishing the individual makes no sense as they are merely showing us the unsustainability of our society as a whole. It’s the equivalent of getting mad at the check engine light for alerting us to a problem with our vehicle, and then putting tape over the light instead of finding a solution to the problem.
I used to believe that salvation lied in the future and my hope was in science and technology bringing me the vibrant health, safety, and good feeling I wanted. By looking back at how my ancestors lived I discovered that health and vitality and feeling good are hard wired in us and nature, and nature’s “technology” is far more advanced and high tech then anything that has come out of Silicon Valley.
All the pain and dis-eases we suffer are alert systems trying desperately to get our attention before we do irreversible damage to ourselves and our planet.
So how do we begin to form functional communities? The way I was taught is start with self, and then expand to family, community, and nation. It seems our society believes it’s the other way around and that acting on a national level will eventually heal the individual. I started my healing and relearning one on one with a mentor, then I found a safe group that welcomed my gifts to practice with, and once I learned the fundamentals I took this practice everywhere I went and now practice with everyone I meet.
I struggle to share these ideas, even the word community seems to cause confusion and strong reactions in people. I suspect there is a language barrier as words like community and village and tribe and ancestors mean different things to different people. Seems like in our culture the idea of living together is so foreign that we have a hard time imagining it without having nightmares of filthy naked people in a crazed drug binge orgy. Or maybe what seems even scarier is talking about our feelings and sharing with everyone what’s really going on inside us?
What if we tell someone what we really want to do or how we really feel and they don’t like it? What if they reject us and tell us to leave? What happens when we have a whole society treating each other this way? Well we have named it Western Civilization, and I’m reminded of Gandhi’s joke when he said he thinks it’s a good idea. So knowing what we have been born into how do we get out?
How do we create communities that are in alignment with human nature?
The answer for me is to reach out and connect with people who share the desire to live in a healthy community, and to get together and start building them. I see the land, resources, money, and people all being available right here now. All we need is the courage to go for it. We can show the way to those of us who aren’t quite ready to live together, give them an irresistible example of what heal-thy looks like.