Who are “your people”? You recognize one another the moment you meet. They get your jokes. Your conversations have a cadence that is comfortable, familiar. Generally you share the same values and probably the same politics. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve known each other a few minutes or many years, you get each other.
And then there are the Uncomfortable Others to whom you’re yoked by accidents of birth (relatives, countrymen), blips on your biographical timeline (high school, past employment), or shared interests. You may share an alma mater, a birthplace, a great-grandfather, or an interest in a particular hobby, but that’s no guarantee that you are members of one another’s tribes.
Aquarius is the sign of “friends,” but not of those who are dearest to your heart. Rather, Aquarian friendships are born of shared interests – what we might call friendships of convenience. They are the co-workers who share your office lunchroom, the volunteers at your neighborhood polling place, and the members of your local astrology group. Occasionally, you will find among them members of your tribe, your people; these become your closest friends. The rest exist mostly in your Facebook newsfeed, email inbox, polling place, and at high school reunions.
It’s lonely to feel like an alien among people with whom you’re expected to feel a connection. I feel this way with many of my blood relatives and most of the people who shared my formative years. Their world view is antithetical to mine; our hearts run on different fuel. We come from the same place, but these are not My People; we will never belong to the same tribe.
But that’s not to say we can’t forge unlikely alliances. Sometimes, prolonged exposure to someone from another tribe can lead us to find common ground. A co-worker from an unfamiliar religious tradition, a neighbor with differing religious views, a relative from a by-gone and less tolerant era, can surprisingly often become trusted and valued in a way we might have assumed was impossible. It doesn’t always happen, and certainly not overnight; but it does happen sometimes, albeit gradually, over months or years of circling each other, a little warily, and sizing up one another’s character – then slowly taking small steps toward trust, and ultimately affection. Without the “shared interest” of the workplace, the neighborhood, the family, these valued connections might never have existed.
How Can We Co-Exist with Other Tribes – and Why Should We Bother?
It’s easy to love Our People, whose opinions and world view mirror our own. But they are few, and the population of the world comprises many. At a time when society is so fractured, and when isolating ourselves from the alien is so easy to do, how can we find a way to co-exist with others? And why should we bother?
The “why bother” question is easily answered. Aquarius is a sign of the collective, of those works of art, commerce, and political will that are beyond the reach of the individual. To tackle them requires more brain and brawn than individuals and our tribes possess. To achieve large aims, we need to unite with other tribes, in large numbers.
But the question of “how” is becoming more and more difficult to answer. In America, it used to seem that there was agreement among most people about many things. Now, we have not only found a way to disagree about practically everything, but to disagree in a tone that precludes any rapport, any sense of fraternity. I think it’s simply because the more we’re able to isolate ourselves from the Other, the less human and more alien they seem.
There are plenty of people in my life with whom I whole-heartedly disagree on a variety of topics. They remain in my life because they have also demonstrated kindness and support, have defended me or my loved ones, or simply state their case in a polite, well-reasoned way. They seldom persuade me to their point of view, but they do remind me that those who see the world differently than I do are not so alien after all. They’re colleagues, neighbors, friends from a distant era of my life – with values I respect and characteristics that I enjoy.
At the Leo New Moon, we celebrated self-hood and the ability to generate love and creative action in the world. At this Full Moon in Aquarius, the challenge is to join with others to create collective creativity, to pursue aims that extend beyond our tribes, our society, and the current moment in history. It’s a challenge that requires each of us, in our own way, to cultivate tolerance for those who may not be “our people,” may in fact be Uncomfortable Others— but who are still, after all, people.
© 2011, 2014 April Elliott Kent