The Question of Belonging

Our current reality is that we still live in a world of structures dominated by power and privilege

Mariam Tadros
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Our current reality is that we still live in a world of structures dominated by power and privilege. We are also living in an age that has evolved rapidly in technology and globalisation and is trying to birth a new era of connectivity and what it looks like to communicate. Yet what we are seeing as these two realities merge is that the way we interact with one another, and the way we organise ourselves is still fuelled in an understanding of success and ambition that revolves around self-acceleration, gaining more and more, expanding our assets and often regardless of what it takes to get there.

THE STRUGGLE

  • More than 70 percent of the world’s adults own under $10,000 in wealth. This 70.1 percent of the world holds only 3 percent of global wealth. The world’s wealthiest individuals, those owning over $100,000 in assets, total only 8.6 percent of the global population but own 85.6 percent of global wealth.
  • The world’s 10 richest billionaires, according to Forbes, own $505 billion in combined wealth, a sum greater than the total goods and services most nations produce on an annual basis.
  • 12 percent of the world’s population lives in North America and Western Europe and accounts for 60 percent of private consumption spending, but a third of humanity who live in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa account for only 3.2 percent.

BACK TO BASICS

So whilst we’re are more connected with more people than ever before, we are still struggling to progress ourselves to a better way of life for the majority: The bottom line of these facts is that our individualist, wealth-driven nature has resulted in deep inequality and injustice by the privileged few towards the many.

If we were to take a step back and remember the core of our being, of our make-up, of our purpose: that is created in the image of God. The image of God that is Trinity – that is a God of pure relationship. Father, Son, Spirit, who in their very nature model that we are built to share space and to make space for one another. We would soon realise that we exist and flourish only in relationship and in belonging to God and to one another. The deep truth, call and beauty of this relational God is that we are invited into that relationship, that movement of a God that belongs to one another and to us.

"Personhood is not a static notion, but an entirely dynamic and relational one that is shared between the divine persons and all human persons - by reason and gift of their creation"

Richard Rohr, Divince Dance

VIRTUAL UN-REALITY

In a world where we’ve become lonelier than ever, where we may have 100’s of followers on social media yet statistics are showing that we have less and less close physical friends and yet also have a deep longing to belong. To belong to people. That our community’s that we are a part of have to begin re-shaping themselves to respond to these new realities and the deep chasm that has emerged between us. These could be communities at home, church, work, friends etc. But we have to begin to reflect on where we’ve gotten ourselves to and how we can re-navigate ourselves towards truly belonging to one other.

Belonging that allows us to come into different spaces as we are, warts and all and progress together. Brené Brown in Braving the Wilderness puts it helpfully:

“Belonging is being accepted for you. Fitting in is being accepted for being like everyone else. If I get to be me, I belong. If I have to be like you, I fit in.”

We must begin created space for one another to belong. As only when we begin to belong do we begin to reflect the very nature of God: “This God is community, fellowship. Being created by this God, we are created in order to flourish. And we flourish in community.” (Archbishop Desmond Tutu, The Book of Joy)

Throughout human history we’ve tried to navigate one another, live together, prosper, succeed, conquer – yet we’ve missed the point so often. We’ve organised ourselves along tribal, sectarian lines that have made us feel a form of ‘security’ and comfort. But what’s its really under up doing is created fear, hatred and prejudice between us and we so quickly forget that each and every one – regardless of geography, gender or race is created in the image of God. In order for us to learn to belong to one another we must begin by learning to see God in one another.

We must create space to challenge the unfounded fears we have of ‘the other’, to move closer to one another, to honour God in each of us and to recognise that until all humanity is moving towards progress, none of us really us – because we are inherently connected and reliant on one another.