Longing for a Place to Belong (Without Losing Yourself in the Process)
Looking at the vast social and ideological landscape of our day, more and more voices ring out loudly and boisterously.
A community kind of like a bench in the middle of a lengthy trail...where anyone can sit for a spell.
News outlets greatly earn their reputation as the lame-stream media with the strongly biased, extreme, and uncritically engaging commentary on any given topic.
The amount of money invested in politics has continued to divide the parties further from each other, and suddenly if you are not pushing further to the left, or to the right, you are on a slippery slope to the other pole. Middle ground, compromise for the sake of unity or problem-solving, is now held hostage by many who wage total-war in the realm of thought. Room for disagreement, varying strategies, philosophies, ideas, and systems, has slowly been reduced to the idea of centrism, a force like a black hole that sucks these individuals into irrelevance in the public discourse.
Systems of belief, whether religious or not, have now had enough time and resources to build narratives and facts in an unyielding force of apologetics. The task: just get better at rhetoric, fact-yielding, and proving a point in monologue.The result is now that you can believe whatever you want, as long as you can sell with certainty, or at least discredit the other view in a flippant and limited manner.
No credit can be given to alternate experiences, and our own worldview begins to set, like concrete, until when we reach a certainty and our course is set. You can't teach an old dog new tricks.
Wisdom has been reduced to rhetoric and winning the argument.
Kindness is held in check until we recognize a common statement of faith, acknowledgement or rejection of a key philosophical premise, or simply a sports team allegiance.
We speak of how others are wrong, we are right, and that if only they would starting acting like us then all would be right. Change is great, as long as it impacts others and not me.
Conversely, there are those who recognize and call for change, ultimately belittling as unenlightened those who have yet to embrace progress. The cement curing in their views is the ultimate necessity for change, and a rejection of tradition, orthodoxy, or precedent.
Basically, everyone thinks they are right.
Those who speak with the most certainty about being right gather the masses around them.
In each of these crowds there becomes those on the inside and those on the outside. Extensive systems form with time, often burning many along the way, casting them aside as chaff while those who continue to cling strongly to core build more and more cases for being certain.
Culture wars ensue.
Does truth really reside exclusively in one group? Perhaps its a handful of groups that have just a sprinkling of variety in them?
After all, when everyone speaks with the same vitriol in the public sphere, how to discern whether the group members are hypocritical or authentic? The discussion again breaks down into proving one point or another.
We live in a postmodern world, or are we even to a post-postmodern one, filled with enough varying groups to make skeptics of us all.
What happens when the communities of our youth are found wanting, holding strongly to a particular belief which you can no longer in intellectual or emotional honestly claim to hold?
Where do people go when cast off from a group for asking questions, or not holding to the certainty of devotion to the piety and devotion to a created übermensch established by those wielding power in that particular group?
When you are not certain, where can you belong without becoming a neophyte entering the catechism of establishing certainty in another group? After all, is not every group now observed with the skepticism of the arbitrary and authentic?
What happens when you are tired of fighting to win a culture war?
What happens when you realize that truth is not so easily contained within the box of a single group, yet it still exists?
Is there a place to turn?
Is there a place to belong when you realize you have gotten to "post-thought," knowing your own understanding is limited, fallible, and yet also the journey you are on?
I describe it as post-thought because it isn't naivete or a rejection of knowledge or wisdom, but because it recognizes the limitations of that knowledge and lets paradox and uncertainty remain.
It is a place where you can wrestle with questions without having to have the certainty of an adequate answer.
A places that allows you to be yourself with others, honestly seeking, being skeptical, and questioning application that give each person the space to be themselves, accepted as uniquely as we each are.
Is there a community, a group, that will value a person not for what they do to advance the cause of that group, but just for who they are?
|A community together on life's journey. Even(Especially?) when stopped.|
It is a community for cast-offs, misfits, and the marginalized.
A community for those burned by friends or family.
A place for those who are tired of being used for their contributions but do not care about them as individuals.
Such a community holds great appeal to me.
A community of sojourners, humbly walking along this journey of life for a time, not knowing where it will take each person but knowing we are all headed in a similar direction.
Thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and strategies would still hold a place in the discussion of such a group, yet it would be dealt with humility and a degree of uncertainty. Perhaps the better description is that it exhibits a degree of grace.
Can a community simply be bound by grace?
Can a place exist that simply holds to those core needs in each of us - love, acceptance, meaning, hope, and faith?
Truly, the community would have to rescue faith from ideology, bring it back from statements listing criteria, to a core concept of placing trust in something bigger than what we know. Thus, knowledge would not threaten faith, but simply help to guide and direct it.
Can a community embrace learning, faith, and wisdom without coming to the creation of an organization that somehow thinks it has it all figured out and has arrived?
A sojourning community, wrestling with questions, and encouraging each other through simple presence.
A loving community, mourning, grieving, rejoicing, and pondering together.
A community bound by grace, forgiving, growing, and reconciling.
I'm not sure if such a community exists, but I promise you this...if along the way you come to this point, there is a seat here next to me.
It is an unconditional seat - if you are willing to sit.
It is an unconditional seat - if you are willing to sit.
I'm willing to be a part of belonging to (and starting if necessary) just such a community.
After all, where else am I going to go?