Yeah, I wonder a lot about this too.
I just read an article by Francis Weller on WisdomBridge.net. I thought she had some really important things to say about the technology of belonging. I can't resist. I gotta post this long quote from it:
The Roots of Our Belonging: Belonging is a fundamental need to the psyche. Belonging initiates a sequence of unfolding that drops us further and further into the world, into her folds and features. We become participants in the ritual of life rather than dispassionate spectators living Ã¢â‚¬Å“lives of quiet desperationÃ¢â‚¬Â as Thoreau observed. Belonging confirms a sense of mattering that quiets the ghosts of exclusion and stills the questions of adequacy. After 25 years as a psychotherapist, I can tell you with no hesitation, that this culture has failed in instilling into our people a feeling of belonging. The reason I feel this is so vital to our attention is reflected in a stanza again, from William Stafford.[color=black] [I think this little verse describes what the anonymity of city life does to us really well--y.d.][/color]
If you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know the kind of person I am
and I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.
Traditional cultures around the world have much to teach us about this fundamental need. They have developed an exquisite Ã¢â‚¬Å“technology of belongingÃ¢â‚¬Â that carries a person throughout their lifetime, reaffirming their place within the community. This tells us something extremely important: belonging is fragile and is very prone to rupture. In other words, the felt sense of belonging requires frequent confirmation, which was the basis of ritual life among indigenous peoples. From birth, (even prior to conception) through death and into the realm of the ancestors, your place in the community was continually assured.
It is in the context of belonging that our deepest self emerges. There is a beautiful saying among a South African tribe that says, Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am, because we are.Ã¢â‚¬Â Now think about that. I am, because we are. My sense of self is directly related to the depth of my being known, being an integral part of the whole. Contrast this with our western correlate: I think, therefore I am. Where are the others? And by others I also mean the animals, clouds, wind, rose, coyote yip, lichen, valley oak. Our sense of identity is shaped by relationship and this is predicated upon belonging. This need of the psyche to feel embedded within the holding space of multiple individuals is ancient. It was in that specific context that our psyches were shaped and it is what we expected upon our arrival here. When this familiarity is set, then the Ã¢â‚¬Å“primary satisfactionsÃ¢â‚¬Â of the soul are fulfilled. This is a critical understanding for us today.
In the absence of these primary satisfactions, (touch, comforting, embodiment, sensuous surrounds of fragrance, color, tastes, intimacies with the natural world, multiple reflections from the community) our attention moves to secondary forms of filling the need for belonging. We strive for success, wealth, prestige, we seek to gather material goods, bigger houses, multiple hummers, we become addicted to power, status or drugs, alcohol, all in an effort to fill what cannot be satisfied except through the experience of true homecoming. As our one-dimensional corporate fantasy spreads across the planet while simultaneously dislodging the social and spiritual base of traditional peoples, the clamoring for secondary satisfactions will increase, much to the pleasure of these corporate interests, but much to the dismay of our beleaguered planet. The earth cannot sustain attempts to fill the emptiness left when the essential need for belonging is aborted.
I see this as one of your central tasks: to translate your passions, your learning, and your particular strand of the thread into a new Ã¢â‚¬Å“technology of belonging.Ã¢â‚¬Â. . . You each carry a filament in the reweaving of the fabric of belonging and it gives me hope.