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 – firstname.lastname@example.org