When I began "blogging", my main purpose was to write for Lucy, my granddaughter ... to give her something tangible to read from her Granny ... to give her a glimpse into her family history ... to give her life lessons that she can take with her and pass down through her generations. This blog touches on one of those life lessons. It's a subject that I truly hope and pray that she doesn't experience -- from the inside or from the outside ... a subject that can bring hurt and distance even to the strongest of people ... a subject that we see too often in our various communities (whether family, friends -- businesses, churches -- schools, neighborhoods -- children, adults). I'm writing tonight about cliques.
Dictionary.com defines a clique as "a small, exclusive group of people" and gives its synonyms "circle", "ring". Taking a look at the word "circle" -- have you ever thought about making the shape of a circle? The letter O is a circular shape. Where is its beginning point? Its ending point? And what about the synonym "ring"? It's impossible to define the beginning and ending on a ring. So, I'm putting these together as "a small exclusive group of people within a circle."
I have seen many cliques in my lifetime, as I'm sure you have too. Imagine a little boy who may not have the greatest athletic ability but hopes that one day the other boys will ask him to be on their team at recess. Or a middle school girl who sits alone at lunch everyday, and looks at the table full of other girls whispering and making sleepover plans for the weekend. What about the teen who tries to join in at a youth activity, but no one will even acknowledge he's in the room. Or the new lady at the office who just moved to the area and doesn't know her way around the city?
I know that there's times when we may not even realize that we are right in the middle of a clique. We have our 'circle of friends' around us, and we are quite content. But what happens when another person comes along and wants to 'join in'? Are we open to accepting a new person into our little group, or do we shut the person out? I've seen people within cliques even go so far as to say "I can't be seen talking to so & so. What will the others say?" And even "I've got the people I want around me. I don't need anybody else."
What are we missing out on when we close our circle? Who is it that maybe God wants to come into our lives, but we aren't open to it? Have you ever been on the inside or the outside of a clique? I am so very thankful for my Mother and my Granny who taught me at a very young age not to shut anyone out. My Mother would ask me "How would you feel if you were the one who was sitting by yourself, or not invited to join in?"
And what about on social media? Someone may say that cliques cannot exist on the Internet. I would have to disagree. Do we find ourselves 'visiting' social media only from those who are within a certain circle? (I'm not talking about the immoral or illegal -- I avoid those too!) Do we find ourselves 'avoiding' social media from those who are on the outside of our circle? Are we 'antsy' that "someone may see my name on this person's friend list" or that "I'm following this person on twitter/linkedin ..." and the list of 'excuses' can go on. This may sound a bit far-fetched to some people, but in reality it happens. It's unfortunate ... but it happens.
I have been on both sides of cliques -- the inside (unfortunately) and the outside (fortunately). And you know, I have learned that actually being on the outside is more open than being on the inside. I said earlier that I hope Lucy does not have to experience the cliques in her life, but I know that she will. My only prayer is that she will follow her Great-Grandma and her Great-Great Granny's advice to be open to other people coming into her life. They may just turn out to be her dearest friends in this world.