Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper: Where Do You Belong?
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” — Saint Teresa of Calcutta
I’ve been thinking a lot this week about the phrase “go back to where you came from.”
Those were the words our president uttered last week, and after he said them, I found myself feeling the rejection, the pain and the hurt behind them. While his words were aimed at four female elected officials, I know that many of us have also heard words like that in our personal lives.
“Get out! Go away! You are not welcome here anymore. You don’t deserve to be here. Leave!”
Sit with those words. How do they make you feel in your body, your heart and your mind? I know they make me feel pain. Why? Well, underneath those words is the implication that one doesn’t belong, and not belonging cuts to the core of what we desire and need to survive as human beings.
Belonging. I remember a quote from Mother Teresa (now Saint Teresa of Calcutta) where she said the biggest threat to us and our world was that people don’t feel as though they belong. “If we have no peace,” she said, “it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
When someone senses that they don’t belong, they don’t feel the ground underneath their feet. They don’t feel like they have a seat at the table. They don’t trust that they belong.
When you don’t trust that you belong, you flounder. You waver. You get scared. You become overcome with fear. I think we are all bearing witness to a lack of belonging in our country that’s rooted in our lack of belonging to our families, our neighborhoods, our houses of worship and our community centers. You can inhabit a house—be it a big white one or a small brick one—and if someone inside doesn’t feel they belong, they will disrupt peace or sow fear.
At times in my own life, I’ve wondered, “where do I belong?” I’ve wondered why I went from a place of belonging to wander. I’ve wondered where I belong now that my children have grown and my family has changed.
I’ve sometimes felt like I belong nowhere and everywhere. I belong to no one and everyone at the same time. Ultimately, though, I’ve come to trust that I belong to God.
I will say that I did feel like I belonged this weekend with everyone who gathered in Hyannis Port, MA, to celebrate the Special Olympics’ 50th anniversary. (Pictured above.) I didn’t just feel physically at home there. I felt at home because I was surrounded by people who all believe in the life-changing mission that my mother started in our own backyard. We gathered from all over and were united by one collective purpose. How amazing is that?
I think it behooves us to realize that, at our core, everyone wants to feel like they belong. It’s our life’s work to find where that is. It’s also important that we make those we love feel like they belong.
And, if you encounter someone who tells you that you don’t belong, then you need to realize that it’s actually their fear doing the talking. It’s their fear of not belonging that is causing them to feel that way.
Our words have power. None of us can truly know what our impact will be when we open our mouths, but if we pay attention to our intentions, then hopefully we’ll use our voices to make others feel welcome and like they belong. Each of us gets to decide whether we want to name-call, gaslight, or sow fear, or whether we want to elevate, empower and lift others up.
We each have the power—with our eyes, our mouths and our bodies—to either say “Go back to where you came from” or “Come here. You are welcome. You belong.”
May we all tread gently, for all of us are vulnerable.
Dear God, whenever I feel lost or like I don’t belong, please help me remember that I belong to you and that my true home is within. Amen.
INSPIRING VIEWS ABOVE THE NOISE
Special Olympics’ 50th Anniversary: Timothy Shriver Celebrates the Organization’s Revolution for Inclusion and Unity
These Millennials Are Getting Ahead of Alzheimer’s Disease. Learn What They’re Doing and How It Can Help You
NEWS ABOVE THE NOISE
1. The Sunday Paper Architects of Change of the Week: The Residents of Taunton and Burnham, England. Because The Sunday Paper is global, we are always scouring the world for Architects of Change. This week, as we discuss the importance of belonging, we salute the towns of Taunton and Burnham in the U.K for erecting “Happy to Chat” benches in their communities as a means for lonely people to connect with others.
2. News to Make You Think: Loneliness Is a Crisis That’s Hitting College Campuses. In this op-ed for The Los Angeles Times, Varun Soni, a dean of religious life at USC, writes that he’s been encountering “more stress, anxiety, and depression, and more students in crisis on campus.“
3. News You May Have Missed: Millions of Caregivers Perform Complex Medical and Nursing Tasks. According to a report from the Home Alone Alliance, approximately 20 million U.S. residents are actually performing complex medical and nursing tasks for the people in their care.
4. News You Can Use: How to Unleash Your Creativity. Need more inspiration or motivation to be creative? This interesting piece from Entrepreneur magazine offers three ways of unleashing your creativity.
6. Our Yippee! Moment of the Week: The Gill Brothers. Yippee to these enterprising young men, who began a candle-making business to buy toys. Now they donate hundreds of dollars a month to the homeless. Celebrities like Robin Givens and D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser are customers.
THE SUNDAY PAPER REFLECTION
This reflection from author/illustrator Carissa Potter Carlson, known as @peopleiveloved on Instagram, is the perfect advice for a Sunday…
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