Thursday, March 03, 2016


I rather hate cliques.

Having had 15 homes (11 towns; 3 countries) in 37 years, this is partly because I know what it is to be an outsider. I have needed to break into existing social networks.

For me, local friendship is vital. I prioritise the people I see every week, however recently I started seeing them. And I am aware of the excluded to excess - I am so conscious of the person who has nobody to talk to that I can't focus on the person I'm talking to. I end up being pals with people I don't like. This is partly arrogance - I need to let go my belief that everybody's inclusion depends on me!

As a lifelong churchgoer and child of the manse, I am used to interacting with unrelated people of different ages, intellects, social backgrounds and to strangers invading my home for meals, meetings and such.

Most of my friends are not cliquey, unsurprisingly. But many individuals and groups I encounter seem incapable of welcoming the stranger in their midst. Here are two reasons why.

1) They think being friendly is the be all and end all.

It is very important. But your methods of organisation can be exclusive and this is particularly unfortunate when the organisation is a church.

It feels good to believe you're too busy doing your job or thinking about higher things to bother with small fry like internal communication and administration. But it is often these things that make newcomers into friends. They enable a stranger to navigate your traditions.

2) They are over-friendly.

The proliferation of small talk and over-busyness in Western society mean we rarely sit and feel awkward with a person we don't know.

A stranger is strange. It takes time to get to know them. In a profound sense, we never really know them. It is tempting to avoid the hard work of forming intimacy by pretending you're already there.

People are very exciting. They are inconvenient. They should not be domesticated. They may not want to answer your questions all at once. Be kind. Be interested.

And don't be bloody cliquey. Or I'll have ya.

1 comment:

Steve Tilley said...

Couldn't grew more Anna. Well said.