By now you’ve probably seen it.
It’s gone viral on Facebook…the story of the unnamed African tribe that has a pretty heartwarming ritual.
According the story, “when someone does something hurtful or wrong, they take that person to the center of the town, and the entire tribe surrounds that person. For two days they’ll tell that person every good thing he’s ever done.”
The idea behind the ritual is that — “every human being comes into the world as good — each of us desires safety, love, peace, and happiness…
But sometimes in pursuit of those things people make mistakes. The community sees these misdeeds as a cry for help.
They band together for the sake of their fellow man to hold him up, to reconnect him with his true nature, to remind him who he really is until he fully remembers the truth from which he’d been temporarily disconnected: ‘I AM GOOD.”
It’s a beautiful story, but there’s some controversy as to how legit it really is (provide link to African stereotype article in bookmarks).
However, that’s not what matters — what’s important is the reason why it resonates with so many people…
And that’s because it’s idyllic — we all want to be encouraged and believed in, and the ritual seems like the unconditional love we long for.
How would this work in practice?
The truth is, it would depend entirely on the person.
But the point of responding to bad behavior with encouragement, isn’t to cater to the lowest common denominator.
The point is that no one is motivated by fear. We hold independence and free will in high regard — this is the best way to practice it.
If you behaved poorly and instead of facing the threat of punishment, you were surrounded by people that showed you grace, you would have two choices:
Continue to act wrongly, thereby hurting them and betraying their trust or…
Act right from a place of love.
Again, this is a utopian way of thinking because in reality a place like this would be a sociopath’s paradise.
On the other hand, society or groups of people are like a living organism with a collective consciousness — which also means that as a society we can evolve…
So by exercising grace we give ourselves a chance to strive for true benevolence and something more closely resembling altruism.
The motivation to act right is no longer for fear of consequences or fear of others, but to please others from a place of joy.
Ultimately, what this practice would do is give people the opportunity to transcend our instincts, and become wholly unified.