As some of you know I am passionate about creating community that is life giving to all. I am currently on a journey to understand what it takes  to create community that is enriching for every member and am grateful for the opportunity to learn that I gain from being part of two distinct and yet overlapping ones – Healerzone and the 7 Graces Project.  The other night I was profoundly disturbed after watching a very moving film,The Help.  In case you have not seen it, it sheds light on life as a black domestic servant in Mississippi in the 1960s.

Whilst the main theme makes for shocking viewing that was not the most disturbing part of the story.  What gripped me the most was how cruel a person can be and yet still have great influence over a whole swathe of society.  Reflecting on what I have read recently about building fierce loyalty, there are three ingredients which need to be present: these are safety, belonging and recognition.  Pernicious communities seem to form when these are out of balance.  For example in the case of The Help the WASP (white Anglo-Saxon Protestant) women’s need for safety and a sense of belonging was so extreme that they were able to ignore any twinge of consciousness to get it. This led to them willingly ostracising any from within their number who did not play by the rules of engagement set by the leader. This was exacerbated by the ring leader’s overwhelming desire for recognition and control.  This led to her imposing very strict criteria on what constituted membership of her club so to speak and most accepted her terms unthinkingly because it gave them access to a full social life. Also to challenge what was then considered the status quo took more courage than most of them had.

What I am still wrestling with here is what are the learning points from this example? What can we take from it to enable us to build healthy, fulfilling communities where the loyalty to the group is just as strong if not stronger? The first step is having a clear stake that everyone signs up to and if there is an ethical dimension to it then it is important that the members model those ways of being amongst themselves and to the wider world. What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Kate Griffiths
Whole Self Leadership
Twitter: @wholeself
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