“Mummy am I Muslim or Hindu?”
“Neither darling, you don’t really have a religion.”
“So can I choose what I am?”
“Yes you can!”
“Oh good! That means I can marry Shey and be a Muslim. My teacher said that if one person doesn’t have a religion they can marry anyone and be the same as them.”
This was a recent conversation with my 5 year old daughter. I loved the simplicity of it. Her thoughts reminded me of an item I heard on the radio last week where a Christian lady was being interviewed about her 40 year marriage to a Jewish man.
The point of the item was to highlight the challenges of living a tandem life like this. She talked about the difficulty their parents had accepting that they would marry. How they worried that she’d feel excluded from his Jewish celebrations because she wouldn’t be allowed to join in. How they wouldn’t be part of either community and therefore how they’d have none.
Being part of a tribe or community is really important to our primitive brain. We like to spend time with people like us because it helps us feel safe and, as far as our primitive brain’s concerned, safe = good. The minds of this couple’s parents would definitely have been seeing this marriage as a serious threat to their safety and security. And especially in those days. 40 years ago when they married – about 1975 – there were three TV channels, no mobiles, no internet, definitely no social media. This meant two things:
………The world was much smaller and awareness of wacky things like inter-religion marriages was incredibly low.
………And, being part of a religion at that time was a significant source of having our basic human need of ‘community’ met. If you didn’t have support there, where could you get it?
Today we have so many ways to be part of a community – whether virtual or in real life – yes religion, and also communities based in work, sports, music, shopping, theatre, food, friends and family …and more, and then there are all the social media community options…..
They provide us with support and a sense of belonging. A sense of shared purpose with others. Community is one of our basic human needs that, if not met, leaves us with a sense of dissatisfaction with life, and a lack of balance. Or worse.
If you stop now and think….. What communities are you part of. Why not list them out. How important are each of them to you? Where would you like to spend more time? What would that give you? And what would that mean for your other priorities?
But what about communities you’d like to be part of but never ventured into? Communities that might challenge your thinking, your attitudes, your experience – and ultimately help you grow and develop in some way.
That little voice of our primitive brain is still there sometimes, telling us whether it’ll be safe or not. Just like the parents of that couple 40 years ago. And yet there they are, still happily married with a richer life because of it. From the joining of their two religions, they’ve had a great breadth and depth of conversation about how to live their lives together, how to raise their children. And apparently their kids were the most enthusiastic with the most mature perspectives in RE class, because of their broader and more varied experience. And they’ve benefitted from the support of two communities rather than one.
So what communities do you want to join that could broaden your horizons and give you a new perspective or a new challenge? And what’s stopping you?
I believe in people being the key to success and that success is unlocked by great bosses. And being a boss is a tough job.
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[Photo credit – world-visits.blogspot.com]