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[Apr. 22nd, 2014|07:10 am]

I am not sure where all the time goes.


I've been reading a thread of discord in an online community, and have listened to the pain of some who are watching a community they have been part of fragment.

Communities have boundaries, but boundaries can be fuzzy or clear. I've been working with my Meeting to think about our boundaries and how the boundaries are very different from one person to the next. I am only beginning to include in my idea of our community two well-loved Friends who died some years before i joined the community. I am aware there are Friends who have left whom i think of as part of our community, but newer members of the community would not know. Then there is discussion around the meaning of Membership and participation and contribution.

For the community i am observing, it seems that the bright clear line the community drew around itself wasn't as clear as they thought. The people "on the line" were strongly excluded by some, apparently to the point of treating them as enemies. For those who wanted to include those on the line, this was unacceptable. So, split.

The voices i'm hearing are voices that seem to have delighted and rested in this community, and don't seem invested in enforcing the boundary, but seem so wounded by the change this has wrought.

And i have to admit to hearing an echo of the privileged of the Old South in their bitter voices. They've lost. The people who care are dying out. It's a lost way of life.

My family has not been invested in the Old South identity, but we have deep, old southern roots, with ancestors who were earliest settlers in coastal North Carolina and pushing on into southwest Georgia. There are slave holders in our family tree. Apparently my sister in law said something about the evils of slaveholding that was framed as the slaveholders were evil. Even without an investment in the Old South, the framing apparently has hurt my parents - driven another wedge between. (It hasn't helped that on a visit to Vietnam, the kids were purchased Vietnamese army costumes and were photographed as victorious Vietnamese soldiers.)

My emotional connection to the Old South is very tenuous, and so i'm not engaged in reacting to how my sister-in-law's much more global point of view doesn't frame the US as the greatest and best. Listening to the members of this other community mourn, i recognize they are not mourning the exclusion, not mourning that privilege has shifted, but that the boundary has been changed to something they no longer recognize.

I think about the recent headline about the first American man to win the Boston Marathon in decades. His name? Meb Keflezighi. I was listening to Fresh Air (in a rare occurrence) as Comic Hari Kondabolu was interviewed. His new album is "Waiting for 2048," a year when whites are predicted to be no longer the majority in the US. (Apparently, new calculations are saying 2043.)

I hope I can participate in this boundary shifting with celebration and joy, watching the children of both my siblings as their racial makeup reflects that of our country. But i feel my reaction to the headline about the marathon winner, feel the "that doesn't count" turn over in my mind, and i recognize that i have deep learned patterns that i need to unlearn. And unlearn fast. Because if i don't, i will hurt my fellow Americans with the "not-real-American" reactions, with the "in the old days" stories. And i will hurt myself.


[User Picture]From: bobby1933
2014-04-22 06:57 pm (UTC)
Thought provoking!! Thank you.

In ancient times, and maybe right up to the 19th century, most people experienced one community. But even then, boundaries were a little fuzzy. (This man's grandfather was of another tribe; is he really one of us?)
I am pretty much a loner, but even i am a member of overlapping communities with sometimes contradictory agendas, each of which may require my allegiance and participation at any time.
Defining groups by boundaries separates individuals from themselves. Defining them as "sociograms" blurs boundaries badly.
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[User Picture]From: gurdonark
2014-04-23 12:32 pm (UTC)
One of the folks I follow on twitter endlessly tweets about how people who believe x willfully exclude people like her who believe y, and how this makes people who believe x awful people. While conceding that sometimes people who believe x and exclude those who believe y are wrong-thinking, depending on the values of x and y, in this case I marvel,a bit, at how much energy it takes to tweet all one's tweets about people who believe x.

I'm intrigued, sometimes, too, how it seems that a dynamic, can-do group is sometimes also a very exclusionary group, which draws strength by constantly defining and rejecting antagonists.

My ancestors were mostly southern farmers and railroad people, who were unlikely to have enough money to own slaves.I like lots of things about southern culture, while lots of other things have had to be left behind,
and hopefully will die out soon.

Edited at 2014-04-23 12:34 pm (UTC)
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