“We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.” ~ Carl Jung
I'm always looking for ways that will help me to shift from the place of blame — either of someone else or myself — when things go badly in friendships and relationships. Besides simply ignoring the behavior or denying the situation, is there a way to reach a place of reconciliation and radically shift back to positive relating?
In the midst the wonders of new life — as Spring continues to take hold and the celebration of resurrection in Christian circles takes place all around me — I was told this story:
There is a tribe in South Africa, the Babemba tribe, that has an evolved way of dealing with wrongdoers. They hold their way of dealing with irresponsible or unjust behavior as sacred and revered, partly because it is so effective.
When someone behaves in these manners, the warriors go and get the wrongdoer and gather everyone at the center of the village. All work ceases and every member of the tribe gathers around the accused individual. Each person in the tribe speaks to the accused, one at a time, telling every valuable, good, charitable thing that the person in the center of the circle has done. Any incident or experience that can be recalled, is recounted with as much detail as possible. The story tellers do not embellish, exaggerate or flatter. They simply tell the stories.
Eventually, everyone with a story of the accused's positive attributes, helpful behaviors, giving of alms, kindnesses, and strengths are recited with intention and at length. The ceremony often takes multiple days of around the clock storytelling.
Once the stories are all “told out”, the circle bursts into joyous celebration and the person who was singled out is welcomed back into the tribe.
Truly Radical Renewal
I don't know if this story is true or not. I think that it's impact is similar enough either way. It makes an impressive point.
So, I think there is a way to shift beyond our shame and blame into a new light of day. Tell the stories of our friends to our friends. Witness the beauty of the ones we know and love. Welcome each other back to living and loving. In this way, we can experience new life … now.