By Traci S. Jackson

In America, we’ve lost our sense of community. We have forsaken our sense of belonging to one another in favor of a perception that we belong nowhere.  We feel separate and many times, less than those around us. This causes us to lash out in proclaiming that we are better than others and to even spew hate and negativity to make sure we get our point across.  We’ve lost our connection to love and instead, we’ve gone headstrong into fear.

There are generally two types of events in which Americans proudly proclaim their status as Americans and own our sense of community. The first is the Olympics and to be honest, even that is falling by the wayside, as we see many Americans representing the countries of their ancestors rather than the country in which they were born and raised, but I digress. The second is when tragedy strikes, more often than not, from a force outside of our country.

What if we felt that sense of belonging every day though, not just in the midst of tragedy or in the midst of the Olympics? What if I told you that you can? You belong. You are a member of the human race. I believe we all emanated from a loving entity/energy that continues to permeate our world today despite the best efforts for it to be quashed by those who’ve strayed away from it. As descendants from this loving entity/energy, we all our brothers and sisters. In fact, we are all the same in the eyes of this loving entity/energy, such that no one of us is more special than the other. We are just the same. We are one!

So if we are all one, why don’t we feel like we belong? It’s because you don’t recognize you are one. You’ve chosen to buy into the fear that you are separate, alone, less than and not worthy. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Our oneness is evidenced by seeing the things that are the same among us rather than focusing on the things that are different about us.  Marianne Williamson always says that we must recognize that there is no ending to where you begin and where the rest of us all end because we are one. We are all the love from which we emanated.

Saying all that, we must recognize that belonging does not result in excluding others to feel that sense of belonging. We must release our judgment of others and be willing to see people from a perspective of love. We must be willing to see people differently. As Gabby Bernstein says, we must “see through the lens of love.” The best way to do this is to imagine that you are seeing them the way God sees them or if that’s too hard, maybe you can see them the way Jesus or Buddha see them.

Belonging also does not mean that at certain times, we must stand alone. Maya Angelou stated, “you are only free when you realize you belong no place–you belong every place–no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.”  I hear you already, “say what?” What Maya Angelou was really saying to us is that our belonging must not prevent us from recognizing that at times, it’s okay that we set boundaries and that we express when we do not agree especially on tough issues.  Often, when we don’t agree, we fall into two camps. We either are attackers or pacifist. I would like to suggest that there is a middle ground. You can express that you do not agree with another person’s opinion or viewpoint on an issue and give valid reasons why without negatively viewing the person (we’re seeing them with compassion as noted above, remember). You do not have to sit on the sidelines, not get involved or agree to disagree. Saying all this, I’m not giving you an invitation to jump into any fray where you know those on the other side of the issue are not willing to discuss the topic without resulting in attacking.

Belonging is possible for us all. We absolutely do belong to the Source from whence we came. We feel a sense of longing to belong because it is in our DNA to recognize that we are one. The key to belonging is to release judgment, be willing to see ourselves as one and with the eyes of love, and ultimately, to be willing to be ourselves and stand for what we believe in even if no one joins us in that belief.