The holiday season can be stressful in many ways.

Tensions and old patterns and pains can lead to moments when not everyone shines in their most brilliant way.

Below is an excerpt from the out of print book Contact, The First Four Minutes by Leonard Sunin.

It is an account of appreciation and love that we find is a brilliant reminder of how we – people in families, organizations and community – can be together during this time of complex feelings and events.

Afterward, we’ll share our three takeaways from Sunin’s story.

* * * *

He writes:

sunni“The Babemba, or Bemba, people make their home in an area of South Africa that includes Zambia and the Congo.

The tribe has a social structure with an elementary criminal code. When someone does something unjust, work stops throughout the village.

The person is placed in the center of the village, alone. The rest of the tribe comes and surrounds him.

Then, each person of every age begins to talk out loud to the accused.

One at a time, each person tells all the good things the one in the center ever did in his/her lifetime. Every incident, every experience that can be recalled with any detail and accuracy, is recounted.

All positive attributes, good deeds, strengths, and kindnesses are recited carefully and at length.

No one is permitted to fabricate, exaggerate or be facetious about accomplishments or positive aspects of the accused person.

The ceremony often lasts several days, not ceasing until everyone is drained of every positive comment that can be mustered.

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.

The tribe believes that each human being comes into the world as good. Each one of us only desiring safety, love, peace and happiness.

Sometimes, in the pursuit of these things, people make mistakes.

The community sees those mistakes as a cry for help. They unite to lift him, to reconnect him with his true nature, to remind him who he really is, until he fully remembers the truth of which he had been temporarily disconnected: “I am good.”

Shikoba Nabajyotisaikia!

NABAJYOTISAIKIA, is a compliment used in South Africa and means:
“I respect you, I cherish you. You matter to me.”

In response, people say SHIKOBA, which is:
“So, I exist for you.”

Their community makes harshness unnecessary.

They are so close knit in fact, that bad behavior is quite infrequent.”

* * * *

We love this story for three reasons (and we suspect you can find a few more).

1. The community makes SLOWING DOWN a priority. Anything other than loving attention toward the person is less important than finding a way to bring the accused back into the group.

2. By focusing on the good deeds of the person, there is a validation of WORTH, and an expression of appreciation for their personal history within the group. The past is honored and respected. There is no guilt trip. It is a reminder of the person’s authentic goodness because appreciation comes from the Heart, and is not fabricated, exaggerated or facetious.

3. There is COMPLETION in the ceremony. Everyone speaks until there is nothing at all left to say. Completion is honored from the perspective of knowing the person belongs in the group and that is where they belong if they choose to stay. Once the community has done its part to be complete, they know what follows will be fair, just and natural.

* * * *

Imagine your family, your organizations, your community, and your country committed to these simple processes.

You may think it’s impossible. Far-flung. A pipe-dream.

We don’t think so.

Like everything else it takes one individual at a time.

You CAN start thinking and functioning in ways that mirror this model of the world.

Imagine: What simple small steps can you take in your family, your community?

Make Little Miracles.

We can all create the world to which we want to belong in 2015!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *