The creation of a world community can only happen when various groups can hold hands and come together as one body and one spirit. The problem of divisiveness should not stand in the way of unity–as it often tends to. Once we begin to debate and quarrel with one another, we go our separate ways.
How many members are there in your community? This is not a trick question. A group usually has around 30-40 people–the size of a public school classroom. Within this group, there are insiders and outsiders; people who form the core and people who are part of the periphery. Once a group is established, no matter how temporarily, the behaviour of the individual automatically changes in order to consolidate or oppose ‘group’ concerns.
When will the day come when people who are part of the core wake up to the notion that people who are in the periphery are also part of their group?
The problem of underlying factionalism should not stop leaders from understanding that they are all still standing under the same umbrella. What are the issues within this group that are creating divisive fault lines? How do we create unity in the midst of diversity?
All my life, I have been a minority. But there have been communities where my status as a member of the periphery was zealously upheld by the core. They reminded me, day in and day out, that I was an Outsider. This, in my experience, was the norm. They don’t want to include you. Your concerns and your perspective doesn’t matter. What you have to say and what you have contributed is not worth much weight as it does not have majority support. In democratic societies, where votes count; it is tough for minority concerns to be given more than a little lip service.
I did happen to be part of one particular community where everyone accepted each other. There was no core and no periphery because the opportunity for factionalism to fester simply wasn’t there. We became a group born out of shared experience; as opposed to shared values, culture, heritage and so on. Conflict was common in this group, but so was consolidation.
The prevailing conditions and environment that gave rise to this unusual group dynamic was the absence of any underlying uniformity. We all came from different cities, cultures, creeds and schools. If we were looking for superficial commonalities to tie us together, we would never have found them.
More often than not, leaders indoctrinate their group members into uniformity. But uniformity is not the same as unity. Uniformity is possible when we actively create and maintain it. However, it is not a long-term plan; nor is it feasible, no matter how hard we try. What we end up with is a group that conforms temporarily in order to fit in and work the system.
Status games create an obstruction towards teamwork, corrode community and create an environment in which self-esteem grows increasingly scarce. Imagine if there was someone in the periphery who stood on the outside and was looking in. We act and pretend like they’re not there because they’re ‘different’ to the superficial unity we’ve created. But the person who stands outside the glass panel and looks in is part of a group’s karmic inheritance. These people whom we excluded are a part of us.
Wonderful things can and do happen when we have the openness to let go of our patterns and preferences when dealing with others. But this is not an environment that most people like to function in. It’s like we want rigid rules and then we don’t want to follow them. During my years as a leader, I’ve lost track of the number of times someone has asked me what to do; and then proceeded not to do it. That is their choice, of course. They are simply exercising their free will.
But the whole idea of having an authority and then deciding to go against it is nothing new either. Divisiveness is created from within the core group to serve their own individual agendas as well. Think about some of the institutions you grew up with or have been a part of. Did it value diversity or did the leadership give certain ‘roles’ more status and influence?
I can see you leaning towards the latter. But tell me, did you want that status and influence for yourself–or did you actually want and crave a diverse environment where all are respected, treasured and cherished?