My Neighbour: The Risk of Belonging

Posted: March 14, 2018 by Ty in My Neighbour, Spirituality

Be curious.

-Stephen Hawking (1942-2018)

We live in a world that has paused at the simplest steps of life. I know reading that spongwill infuriate more people of all ideologies, but it is true. The simplest steps of life are inclusion/accessibility/affirming. They are physical transformations of space, or nods to language change or nods that a person can exist, well because of birth. These are the simple steps, and yes we do struggle, because to be crass some human beings are obstinate dumb asses or easily led down the garden path of hate.

Yet if we can move beyond that fear of the unknown, there is more to examine within our own selves and our communities. I state the fear of the unknown that is created through labels. Yes, communities can use these to identify themselves, but then they become points of segregation, an us and them motif. This is wrong.

I’m not comfortable with the idea of setting people apart, because when you set them apart as holy innocence, what you’re really doing is creating another level of difference, another level of segregation. It’s just another way of pushing people to the margins.

John Swinton

But it is about moving beyond the simple choices, the acts of language or money. As much as we make noise about these being so difficult. Why is this noise existing? If this noise exists, the true risk does not need to be assessed. It is why with those who are differently abled, or struggling, we hold to the healing miracles. We miss the setting in history where the only way belonging would be allowed in the ancient mind scape is if everyone was the same. For that is the truth of the tales, whether Jesus is spitting in eyes, or casting out demons or cleansing lepers. It was about removing barriers for INCLUSION, but it did not mean the newly healed belonged, only they could attend (I will not go on a long discourse here, as there is many on this thread in other areas of my site).

           To include people in society is just to have them there. All we have to do is make the church accessible, have the right political structures, make sure people have a cup of tea at the end of the service or whatever. There is a big difference between inclusion and belonging. 

John Swinton

The risk of the heart is belonging.

It involves two parties. The one wanting to belong, the newcomer or the one who has been “included” and the other, the community or other individual/family (add any grouping). There is risk of inclusion in space and number, but exclusion in every other way. Humans need connection.

Belonging is risky because you have to open yourself up to someone else, and see nothing more than who they are in all there blessed goodness.




            To risk, as Swinton and others have pointed out, is to risk being missed and missing when they are no longer there. It is not simply the story of aging in place, and dying well as was discoursed with aging leaders in community, most famously discussed with the passing of Pope John Paul II. For true belonging comes without age, especially in a world where 1 in 3 Canadian children will be born with or acquire a disability.

The greatest risk?

The challenge to community to answer why when a child’s seat who belongs, is filled one time, and empty the next.

Let that sink in as you begin the journey to true belonging.

How does your community understand death?

What trite phrases are thrown out that will do more harm than good? That will shatter belonging for those who grieve deep in the soul?

The risk of belonging, is the risk of re-examining the stock answers for the reality of now.

This is the beginning of a discussion for any group or person that says they include or affirm. These are true statements, and true steps on the journey.

But do they open up to belonging?

            If they are open to belonging?

Are they open to grieving the loss without an answer?

  1. My Neighbour: Risk of Being Missed or Missing Someone (why belonging scares us) | Ty Ragan, Psy.D says:

    […] My Neighbour: The Risk of Belonging […]

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