We all crave a sense of belonging and the hope of finding meaning for why we are here. We all want the stability it brings and sense of purpose it fills you with. As a society we must understand the basic needs of our fellow humans regardless of tribe or cultural make up. We are always asking the questions, who am I? What can I contribute? If we are defined by our environment, that changes dependent on your demographic. Low-income housing, substandard education, poverty, bargain branded alcohol, a steady flow of mind-numbing drugs, a cocktail drunk by angry hostile minds. There will always be the exceptions who are able to go against the flow. Salmon, Rainbow Trout, follow a well-known scent that leads them back to the place of their birth. They feel driven by instinct to do this.

“Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” is a well-known phrase in the United States Declaration of Independence. The phrase gives three examples of the “unalienable rights” which the Declaration says have been given to all humans by their creator. But not all humans experience the liberation of finding their place. There are so many who feel like aliens within a place that was designed for them. We measure their worth by what they do not who they were made to be.

Where you find belonging, acceptance, a sense of identity, you will fight to stay within that sphere regardless of the ideology. A person’s inner emptiness outweighs the emptiness of the ideology. As a society do we accept all people or is there conditions. Good education, society loves those who conform. Society expects but what does society offer to help those on the fringes. Does society offer a sense of belonging or does it build upon the rejection many have already experienced. Divorce, abuse, the school system, racial profiling and so on. So why when they choose to identify with those who accept them even though they have extreme views, indulge in football violence, gang affiliation, are we surprised. We have seen youth gang violence blamed on single mothers, the nurture debate. Gone are the days of the ideal family, we live in a broken world and must respond to it. I always hear people asking why young people join gangs. At home they may have experienced rejection, witness abuse be it physical, mental or emotional. They may experience extreme poverty. They look for in life what we all cherish, love, acceptance, the things that validate us. Many find it amongst their peers and are willing to do whatever it takes to preserve it. We tell them to go back into education, a system that enforces their situation. We tell them to get a job, when employers in all reality very really take risks. The system is one of greed, built on the back and graft of the slaves. Human life has little to no value to the ruling classes. An old African concept says, ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ But our villages are fractured by mistrust and fear. Our most vulnerable will always suffer. They lack the opportunity and level of aspiration to reach above the stereotypes, prejudice and stigma. Society condemns them for wanting what they themselves thrive on. Their dreams and aspirations have been attacked and we are living their reaction. We don’t value their potential and are a poorer society as a result.

A sense of belonging and a misguided love mixed with fear, keeps some within abusive situations. Only love can resolve the emptiness we try to fill, only love gives us the means to love ourselves. We must stop looking at others and thinking, what do they have to offer, turn it around. How can we help them fulfil their huge potential? Teachers must not categorize young people by culture or behaviour. Behaviour is a simplistic response to complicated stimulus. Just because one has a better environment should not mean they are treated better than one who is not. A system built on privilege can only result in anarchy. We must help our world heal. We must look after our environment, look after nature. Yet first things first we must look after each generation, giving them the love and support that can be the launchpad for their success.  We must look beyond the hard exterior, the clothes, the walk, the talk. We must look beyond the behaviour, the mistakes and help solidfy their foundation. No structure built on a weak foundation will last, it’s an accident waiting to happen. Businesses must invest in this generation, opportunities must be spread out before them. Many have made choices to join groups because society has failed them. We cannot keep acting the same way and expect different results. It is time to change.

From belonging to becoming, we are always becoming. Change is fundamentally a human characteristic. A baby is born with the potential inside to be a man or woman. Throughout their lives they are becoming as they transition through life. There is no destination as many cultures believe in an afterlife. We have a series of stop-overs, those that have made bad choices there is still hope. They still can become something they aspired to as a child. Sometimes we need to awaken the inner dream and go back to when life made sense and reroute the GPS. Everyone who has experienced success realises that to achieve what they did they had to sit on the shoulders of giants. I don’t understand the reluctance to allow others to sit on yours. We all have a part to play within the villages we journey through. Lets all leave footprints others can follow.