Sunday, May 3, 2015

let's escape the tribal

from many, one

we have our differences,
and part of us loves commonality,
a grouping together with those
most like the part of ourselves
that strikes us as determinant:
maybe our gender, our age,
the way we see the world,
personality traits like ours,
the geography of our birth,
the color of our skin,

we find each other,
and we are a group,
those not in the group are “other”
and it’s easy to deny the other can be part of us,

in our politics and in our associations
we can easily slip into the tribal,
we fragment and deny the whole that we can be,

tonight I attended the world premier of a play
I commissioned to be written
as a way to express and celebrate
the best of who we can be as a Quaker school,

the playwright, director, and middle school actors
got it, expressed it, celebrated it,
as they presented a world with 7 tribes,
each committed to the totem of a different animal:
the fierceness of the tiger,
the preening of the peacock,
the caution of the mouse,
the playfulness of the monkey,
the steadfast dependability of the dog,
the power of the snake, the goat,
the children explore, reach out to the other,
and find companions, friends they didn’t expect,

another group impinges on their world
and they have to deal with it,
so they find how to work together
and, in that work, discover parts of themselves
to develop in synchronicity with what works for the other,

once they’ve come together,
their hearts enlarge enough to welcome
even the ones most distinct from them,
if the other meets the outstretched hand
 with their own outstretched hand,

“me” dissolves into “we” 
and the opposition of the tribal 
morphs into the dynamic cooperative tension
that can hold family and community together.

by Henry H. Walker
May 1, ‘15

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