We used to believe our society was our tribe. When we worked in jobs we didn’t believe in, making money for people we didn’t like, consuming resources at a rate the earth couldn’t sustain, racking up ever-increasing debts to banks, competing with others, being preoccupied with houses, cars, objects and an outward image — still we believed.
We didn’t even know what our real beliefs and values were, let alone that we were contravening them, in a million ways, every day. Then we became parents, and it brought us face to face with the disconnect between who we were and who we really wanted to be; what we really wanted for our children.
Four and a half years later here our family is living off-grid on solar power and spring water, increasingly supplying our own food. We focus on family harmony. We tread as lightly as we can on the earth. We couldn’t care less about objects beyond if they help us meet a need or not. We value human relationships and yearn for connection like never before. We live our beliefs and values every day, and in doing so we have become square pegs in round holes.
We’ve met some fantastic humans (many online) we call our tribe, and our lives are richer for their presence. We’ve also learned some very hard lessons that our candid honesty, respect for the choices of others, and our “live and let live” beliefs aren’t always shared. We’ve had more than our share of rejection, that’s for sure. We’ve even experienced what is becoming all too common in alternative parenting circles — someone trying to get the state to break up our family because they wanted us to believe what they believe.
I didn’t realise it at the time, but I was privileged to have a childhood where nearly every school holiday included a week of living with the aborigines of Australia, the Gagadju people in a place called Kakadu. Fishing, hunting, working together, collecting bush-tucker, hearing dreamtime stories, and lots and lots of swimming, playing, and laughing.
I got to see what a tribe looked like, and it was amazing. People who knew each other across generations and had lifelong relationships. Whose existence relied on innate cooperation. Who had so much in common. Who respected each other’s differences. People connected to their land, and by that to their true human nature. That experience planted a seed, for which I am eternally grateful.
We have worked tirelessly to find our tribe, often through common labels. A style of parenting, a set of beliefs, a lifestyle, etc. Often those labels haven’t been catered for so we’ve created parenting groups, neighbourhood groups, philosophical groups, a relocation project (where we live in the same location as neighbours), to help us and others find their tribes. We’ve all derived friendship and profound support and been united with fellow travellers on our journey. However this only works when people find and apply that label, then reach out to that community.
We researched intentional communities and for us as parents of young children it felt too risky. We observed that many communities are based on either a limited or an all encompassing set of beliefs. We prioritise a stable base for our children, and how many communities would we need to try out? For us, without the rock solid foundation a tribe brings, it feels too risky. For others it has worked and we admire them.
We firmly believe that if we humans are to achieve sustainable happiness, harmony, and meaning in our lives, then we need to reinstate the social environment in which humankind developed, our tribes. We know from our experience that there are tribes for each and every one of us out there, locally, nationally, and across the earth, and being a part of them is profoundly life-changing. Beliefs and values transcend geography these days and we can be linked by similar journeys and arrival at common points.
We need a way to start bringing the collectives together. Uniting to mobilise and create the space each of us need to uphold our beliefs and values, whether online, in real life, or through friendship, partnership, rallying together, or forming an intentional community, etc..
Social networking has opened up that opportunity. But it still falls short; it isn’t a truly safe place. While we are comfortable in our beliefs and don’t mind stating our position (while leaving room for others to have theirs), we have found social networking as it stands provides a bottomless pit of justifying and defending for those with alternative views. While what we really need is acceptance and connection.
The greatest challenge to find our tribe, has been finding ways to find our tribe. So the next step in our journey has led us to take a leap of faith and build a way to connect like-minded people through shared beliefs, values and lifestyles.
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