Courage in a Tribe

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Courage

“There are all kinds of courage. It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”

J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Traditional societies are generally divided into communities linked by social, economic, religious or blood tied.   We like to participate in tribes whether we call them family, friends, groups, teams, clubs, or buddies because they form our support network and offer a measure of certainty.  Since we want their approval and acceptance, we have reservations about moving forward in a new direction.  Erma Bombeck once said “It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.”

Choosing a different path and becoming an outlier from the status quo, takes enormous courage.  Yet, to remain faithful to the “tribe” and surrender personal fulfillment is a sacrifice far too great.

“Courage is the price life exacts for granting peace.”

Amelia Earhart, attributed, Another Country

28 thoughts on “Courage in a Tribe

    • It is always difficult to lose friendships. But the real loss is if we forget to be best friends with ourselves. “True friendship can afford true knowledge. It does not depend on darkness and ignorance.” Henry David Thoreau

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  1. The tribe is ever-changing on a different path, everyone is welcome though to celebrate when it’s time, enemies especially. They are our teachers, our “Gurus” and I thank them, sincerely.

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    • I agree! Everyone is welcome to the celebration!

      “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”
      ― Abraham Lincoln

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  2. This has deep resonance personally. Fitting the “solitary” archetype, I’ve repeated the joining-retreating-joining-retreating cycle several times in this lifetime.
    I visualize [group] as being at minimum a three dimensional structure, thus a group requires at least 3 people to form; Arlo Guthrie happily describes this:

    “You know, if one person, just one person does it they may think he’s really sick and
    they won’t take him. And if two people, two people do it, in harmony,
    they may think they’re both {politically incorrect term deleted} and they won’t take either of them.
    And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in
    singin a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walking out…. they may think it’s an
    organization…. ”

    Visualize three or more posts in the ground, and we have a structure. The posts are the individuals, the area within is the group. Even if one of the posts is further away from the others, it’s still forms a structure. A perceived need for stronger definition and/or security will add wires of doctrine binding the posts, simultaneously setting up inclusion and exclusion zones. Adding more material between each post begins to limit the awareness from inside and out and adds greater burden to the posts.
    A post that is further away from the others bears a greater weight of wire, as do the posts closest to it. It may require to much effort and material for the others to include the outlying post, and they’ll cut across the shorter distance, casting the furthest view away. Alternatively the outlying post could collapse from the burden of stricture before being cut away.
    The value of a distant post is that it has a broader view of the surroundings, and can pass down the wire news that it’s inside an even larger structure. With any luck at all that larger structure also has an included far flung post, which will inform that there’s an even larger one beyond it.
    Thank you Clan Mother.
    End of report.
    🙂

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    • Well said, my dear friend! Thank you so much for adding your wisdom to this dialogue. I especially appreciated the three or more post analogy – we have all, in one way or another, experienced this moment. You have given me much to think on!

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  3. Yes, courage takes a lot of different faces. It takes a bit of courage, I think, to disagree with friends, especially on topics that are very important to each of them.

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  4. This is such a perceptive and meaningful post. We are all looking to belong, but sometimes the status quo takes us away from who we really are. I always seem to be outside of the ‘club’ as I like to do things my own way. Indeed it is hard sometimes to stand up to friends when the going gets tough.

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    • You were outside the “club” while I always felt that I was on the “wrong page.” Sometimes, even the best of friends, are afraid that they are somehow “losing us” because we are moving forward in a different direction. Today is George Washington’s birthday. I like what he has to say on friendship: “True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity, before it is entitled to the appellation.”

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    • Thank you!! As I look back, I think about the quote from Mark Twain: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” When we move forward, the status quo catches up with us – we are setting the standards and benchmarks.

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  5. This joining-retreating-joining-retreating cycle is based on a resolution with our fellow human to attempt progress. Of course we will always make mistakes and we make mistakes because we need them to grow. Life isnt simple, though who insist it is leads us to more dangers. I suggest our imperfections builds a commitment to learn and try again. We not perfect but we can commited.

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    • I agree wholeheartedly. Our state of imperfection is the catalyst that demands progress. And progress is more rapid and complete within community.

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      • That’s interesting… M. Scott Peck (of the Road Less Travelled) had much to say for community and personal commitment. He suggested we can only achieve an enlightened self-actualisation of self through being part of a compassionate co-operative of people willing to work together in a shared vision and goal for better society.

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      • My father told me to read that book! I haven’t yet, so I am adding it to my “to read” listing…thank you for reminding me….

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      • Oh right, the Road Less Travelled is a very good read, for me it was more a clearing of the decks, and taking more personal responsibility for my own psychological health etc. Yet it was a latter book called The Different Drum where he develops his ideas around community building. Very clearer written case for civility and social engagement. A good teacher for our times, I deeply respected his approach to defining and dealing with massively complex issues of fragmentation, such as poverty.

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      • I just went through my books and found “The Road Less Traveled.” I will check out whether “The Different Drum” is at the library!! Thank you for the recommendation….

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      • 🙂 I found needed to read TRLT several times over. There is a lot of condensed thought here. I smiled when you said your father recommend this book. I tend to avoid the self help books as a rule, but its one of the few books that I’d save and pass on to my children. It invites critical thinking about personal responsibility and provides a no nonsense reflection of the path we chose.

        I nodded too with your Picasso quote, answers are ultimately useless if we have not understood the questions life throws at us, from ethical comsumersim to deciding which pop band to follow. BTW No Direction doesn’t sound promising does it? 🙂

        So I have absolutely no idea what spirituality my children will decide to follow… they may have very different conviction to me, and that’s ok and to be expected, I do however hope that Art will be in there somewhere, and I hope there lives will be meaningful… I try to create that space.
        Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

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      • We live in a global world so it is interesting to watch the globalization of religion. All parents want their children to have peace in their lives. I appreciated your words – “they may have very different convictions…that’s OK and to be expected. To me spirituality is a reflection of creativity, artistry and wisdom. We must have art.

        Every generation must grapple with this question.

        “I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn’t, than live my life as if there isn’t and die to find out there is.”

        Albert Camus

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    • I especially liked when she said, “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might have well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” J. K. Rowling

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