To belong. I think this is one of the most beautiful phrases in the English language. To me it says I am among those whom I treasure and who treasure me. I need not be more or less of who I am to be valued nor do they. To belong is to be in the company of those who accept my frailties and failures as I accept theirs.
Belonging is the glue that holds families and communities and even entire countries together through the best and worst of times. It is unconditional acceptance, even when we can’t extend our unconditional approval. It’s the life-affirming philosophy of “You’re not perfect, but you’re mine. And that makes us perfect for each other because I’m not perfect, either.”
Almost everyone I belong to (and who belong to me) has a belief system or a political position they adhere to that is different from my own. But those differences don’t exclude our mutual belonging because we share something that transcends ideology. We share the common bond of humanity.
Because we might not agree on every religious, political or cultural issue, does that mean you would exclude me from your table? I hope not for I would absolutely never exclude you from mine. I would welcome you. For here is where you belong.
Is there someone in your universe who believes differently from you or perhaps feels disenfranchised? Invite them to your table and listen. If they share with you what frightens them, don’t go crazy. Don’t debate. Don’t judge. Don’t try to persuade. Just listen for we all have more in common than we think.
We all long to belong.
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” – Mother Teresa