Author Daniel Quinn once wrote, “There is no one right way to live” [sic].  He doesn’t articulate its corollary however, “and every renewing and healthy culture has their own right way”.

Without the corollary, “there is no one right way to live” sounds like more, new-agey, “it’s all good”, “we’re all one” (no, the profound lack of e-prime in those catch phrases did not escape my notice) sentiment.

What happens when you have one group, with a lively and profound sense of their own “right way” (tested by time and partnership with their land and each other), and this group bumps into another? You have conflict, affirmation of identity, diversity. I don’t experience conflict negatively at all, though I know the modern civilized culture does. Even moreso, conflict does not mean violence. An inability to resolve conflict leads to violence. Conflict itself, just means energy!

Also, these (let’s call them) cultural groups, use this energy to build belonging and solidarity when they bump into members of the other group. A tightening of community, in response to (quite literally) foreign bodies, like an immune response. But one person’s foreign bodies, belongs natively to another organism.

Without a sense of in-group (native belonging), and outgroup (strangers and rough-mannered foreigners), organisms, whether social or specific, die.

Our culture places a taboo on this kind of thing, this “clannishness”, in-group/out-group dynamic. All hail the “Great American Melting Pot”, the loss of language, tradition, color, diversity, into (ideally) one monochromatic swirl of humanity with an american flag on it. Ironically, this monochrome will look pretty brown, thanks to the influx of central american indian families (otherwise known as “mexicans”, “migrant workers”, and “illegal aliens”). But I digress. Only civilization would think highly of such a goal, that of homogenization, loss of identity to the greater colonizing culture.

The simplest way to reconnect to tradition, family, and nativeness to the Land, lies in our willingness to create our own identity, to reestablish our own in-group (and corresponding values and goals), and feel no guilt or shame at how we treat those with out-group values and goals.

Think of it this way. You need money (or barter, or whatever) to deal with people in the out-group, buying and selling things. For people in your in-group, support flows between members. Money that passes between in-group members occurs as a flow of support, not buying or selling anything, but helping others to trade with members of the out-group.

For the vast majority of those reading this, this may sound like an impossibly ideal situation. Or perhaps you’ve tried it experimentally, and it didn’t work so well. So goes the death of family and tribe. So how do we build it back up again?

First, I suggest a ruthless practicality. Self-honesty, on the risks you can actually take. And deep reflection, on who this works with, and who it doesn’t. Use this as a goal to work toward, not a measure of your rewilding. Build your in-group one member at a time. Treasure people you can trust and rely on, as more valuable than a mountain of gold and silver. Shower them with support. Do what you can to start with family; if you can’t start there, start with dear, old friends. Share food a lot. Think of the implications of this in-group, out-group issue, as a beginning of understanding native traditions of adoption. Perhaps adoption means “growing your in-group”, in exactly this way, with exactly these benefits and sacrifices?

In the end, I myself have no clear answers. I have to rebuild all of this too. But I know it matters. Good luck!

Written by Willem