A Story We Need

August 31, 2020


In a tribe of South Africa, when a person acts irresponsibly or unjustly, he is placed in the center of the village, alone and unfettered. All work ceases, and every man, woman and child in the village gathers in a large circle around the accused individual. Then each person in the tribe speaks to the accused, one at a time, each recalling the good things the person in the center of the circle has done in his lifetime. Every incident, every experience that can be recalled with any detail and accuracy, is recounted. All his positive attributes, good deeds, strengths, and kindnesses are recited carefully and at length. This tribal ceremony often lasts for several days. At the end, the tribal circle is broken, a joyous celebration takes place, and the person is symbolically and literally welcomed back into the tribe.

It’s a wonderful story. And it turns out it’s mostly likely not true. Diving down the research rabbit hole, I discovered that although this story has been in circulation for more than a decade and even shared in the writings of esteemed authors like Jack Kornfield and Wayne Dyer, there seems to be no proof that this was in fact a tribal tradition.

Does it matter? With all the lies and false stories permeating our cultural and political narrative in this time perhaps this is one story that can feed us rather than tear us apart. This is one story that offers inspiration for the way forward.

This is one story we need.

Judith – judith@stonefires.com

4 thoughts on “A Story We Need

  1. Oh, I have loved this story since I read it years ago. I’m sorry that it is probably not “true,” but I guess it’s one of those mythical stories that may not be factually accurate but is certainly true at its core. We do periodically need to be reminded of our better nature by those around us, moved back into alignment with love by those who love us.


    • Hey Anne. I know. Me too. Have read and actually told this story myself. And yet there is something in here about people creating and perpetuating the stories and myths that are meaningful. Perhaps a creation of collective consciousness. And it is certainly a story for this time.

  2. I agree absolutely, Judith. Let’s make up more like it and then try them out in our communities!

    • Yes!!! Because we can absolutely adapt this. And grow it. And make it relevant for what’s unfolding in this now! Hmmm. More fodder for the Hag retreat.

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