<written July 2008>
Now, I am a major word person. Words & quotations & writing & book recommendations & ideas flow through my mind absolutely endlessly; it’s like a river that never seems to dry up. And it’s come to me that what we human beings need – really need – to feel contented & fulfilled & full & capable of living up to our (absolutely awesome) potential – can be boiled right down to the first three letters of the alphabet.
I’m going to start with B, because it’s really the whole darn karmic enchilada right there, if you ask me. The other two flow from there…
Belonging is, I’m utterly convinced, the whole freakin’ deal. When we feel – when we know deeply – that we belong – to a tribe, essentially, everything else pretty much falls into place. The other things that we really need also just kind of happen…
But this is a big “if,” because I think huge numbers of people don’t really feel in their bones that they do belong – & the crimes & misdemeanours caused by those who are this kind of adrift are staggering & deadly, & very, very numerous, & they have come very close to devastating the planet that is our only home (it may even be that the ruin they have caused is now beyond repair; since I don’t have a universe/planetary crystal ball, I cannot say for sure).
As I say, this Belonging business is a big-ticket item. Worth giving some thought to, I’d say. Mull it over for yourself & see what you think…
A is for acceptance & approval & affirmation & appreciation; we all need to feel/experience these – preferably pretty routinely, I’d say – & when we don’t, once again the crimes & misdemeanours flow. Not to mention the shrivelling up of our spirits & our souls…
C is for community. Of course, community flows out of the belonging piece – as do acceptance & approval & affirmation.
There are other things we human beings need, of course – food & shelter & love, primarily, I’d say. But these also flow from belonging & community (as does being needed. We all need to be needed…).
Belonging was once our birthright, I’m convinced. We were born into tribes, & all of our needs were met. I don’t mean that all tribes in all circumstances conducted themselves in some kind of pretty little Walt Disney fashion. Clearly, this was not the case.
But I’m also pretty sure the world wasn’t the mixed-up scene it’s become, either, with poisoned air & water & earth & broken & starving spirits all around, & a very tiny minority of human beings dominating & lording it over & raping the rest of the Earth’s resources & land & people.
A long-time slogan of environmentalism is, “Think globally, act locally.” The fact is, things have come to such an un-pretty pass now that the wisdom of this aphorism packs even more punch than ever.
There is precious little any of us can do about anything on the grand, planetary scale. The momentum of destruction is now such that stopping it is pretty much outside the realm of anyone’s imagination.
All we can realistically do (I suppose, all we ever could realistically do) is to “Think globally, act locally.” (1)
As the proverbial excrement continues to hit the fan – as the pace of its hitting picks up & magnifies & multiplies, we really are being thrown back upon ourselves, aren’t we? The “global economy” doesn’t give a tinker’s dam about our puny little local Main Street, or our puny little individual selves.
We need to learn – re-learn – how to look after ourselves.
We need to get back to the fundamentals. (2) To the A-B-C’s. We need to start back where human beings began – by recognizing & affirming our deep need for the simplest, most basic things.
Our need for this Earth, & for each other!
p.s. The blog post 'Sin is that which separates' may also be of interest.
(1) I’m pretty sure it was Wendell Berry who said never mind, even, about the “globally” part. Just “Think locally, act locally.” If we were all to do that, the “global” piece would in time be sorted out as well. Wendell Berry is a much bigger thinker than I am, so I expect he’s right.
(2) Food is pretty fundamental! Growing our own. Community gardens, food co-ops, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA’s), etc. etc.