love, life, and the pursuit of liberation
I remember taking a class in undergrad called Deviant Sociology. Deviance is predicated on a norm set by groups, and we learned that the chief function of groups is to replicate itself. Often, groups use tactics like fear and coercion to set boundaries and entice people to maintain their membership to the group and allegiance to group norms. That class came at a defining moment for me; it was then that I consciously decided to stop participation in organized religion because I saw many of the same tactics used to drive membership, and it caused me to doubt the true good of organization. As you may have read here, I’ve returned to organized religion but only as my ideas about the nature of groups have changed.
I’ve learned, as I enter many communities in the past five years ranging from Trying to Conceive blog circles to Brown Girls who Write, that groups don’t have to be cults of personality or mob mentalities. There are positive ways that groups serve our lives– they amplify our energy and purpose, and contribute to a greater, universal good. Still, there are obstacles that make some of us hesitant to participate in organized assemblages:
All of these obstacles to group membership are all the more reason to find the right place for you. I know it sounds oxymoronic to say that to heal from past experiences with groups is to join a group, but hear me out. Finding the right group can liberate and uplift you. How do you know it’s the right group? I thought you’d never ask.
Checklist for positive groups and organizations
How does this list compare to groups you’ve participated in or groups you’ve led? How does this inspire you to find an affirming group or create one? Share away!