We are going to have to change as dramatically over the next hundred years as we did over the last.
One of the key areas of change that the advent of oil has facilitated has been travel. Societies and families have discovered the freedom to expand and spread out. Very often families will now be scattered all over the globe where at one time not long ago most people would live and die within ten miles of their birthplace. With this coming onset of dramatic lifestyle change there is likely to be much mental stress exacerbated by our sense of distance, of separation.
Psychologists have long recognized that people living within fifty miles or less of family will tend towards greater mental health. They will feel a sense of belonging.
Yet today, belonging is a word of terror or at least anxiety for much of humanity. We want to belong but we don’t want to be bound. The struggle comes largely from our interpretation of the word. For most belonging carries a strong sense of obligation; what must I do to belong? Like so many areas of challenge in our lives the struggle comes from striving to get rather than give. We constantly ask “What will I get from belonging here?”
For me, it is the less important question and never of itself leads to satisfaction. The only question I have found to bring any true sense of fulfillment is, “What can I give to this moment, this organization, this person?” Once I have determined that the person organization or activity is moving me in the same direction as my values I commit to it with my time, resources and creativity. For me to belong is principally to BE.
A simple acronym for BELONG would state:
–Loving (how can I empower this moment?),
–Open (how can I stretch myself to meet the present needs?),
–New (how can I see this moment for the first time with the eyes of a child?),
–Giving (how can I give of my time, treasure and talents to empower this moment?)
…where 'this moment' is your family, work, organization or spiritual community.
As Saint Francis expressed; it is by giving that we receive. Belonging is about giving into that which we truly value. It is about standing forward with our actions and saying this is what I believe.
This is exactly what the spirit of Christmas is about.
My wish for all of us is that our hearts expand into this season of giving. I desire that we can all find and embrace a real sense of belonging through this day, this season and this year.