Belonging is a core human need — belonging to a community, a tradition, a group.  Belonging implies one is a part of something larger than one’s self, and is accepted by others who share that membership in a secure relationship.  The negative side of belonging is that some are excluded from belonging.

[M]y consciousness of belonging to the invisible community of those who strive for truth, beauty, and justice has preserved me from feeling isolated.

— Albert Einstein

Community offsets loneliness. It gives people a vitally necessary sense of belonging.

— Alvin Toffler

But what is identity really? What is it to ‘belong’ when we cast ourselves in the mold of a social group? I ask this, in spite of my implicit allegiance to one; yet, it is a worthwhile question. I mean, really, what does it even mean to share a commonality of blood or language or religion or heritage or context or economy or trade—and what value does this sharing of common traits, values and experiences truly have when there exists already a larger model of connection and commonality enveloping these disparate identities whole…? Do we pout at our inadequacies in the face of a “something” that is slightly more heterogeneous in its model of belonging? Sometimes, we simply must let go and chalk up all these movements to an inveterate (and arbitrary) sense of pride.

— Ashim Shanker

Perhaps one of the greatest rewards of meditation and prayer is the sense of belonging that comes to us.

— Bill W.

Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.

— Brené Brown

True belonging is not passive. It’s not the belonging that comes with just joining a group. It’s not fitting in or pretending or selling out because it’s safer. It’s a practice that requires us to be vulnerable, get uncomfortable, and learn how to be present with people without sacrificing who we are. We want true belonging, but it takes tremendous courage to knowingly walk into hard moments.

— Brené Brown

[O]ne thing is certain: to say an unconditional yes to the mutual belonging of all beings will make this a more joyful world. This is the reason why Yes is my favorite synonym for God.

— David Steindl-Rast

The fundamental emotional need of every child is being-with.

— Dragos Bratasanu, Ph.D.

I have just as much right to stay in America — in fact, the black people have contributed more to America than any other race, because our kids have fought here for what was called “democracy”; our mothers and fathers were sold and bought here for a price. So all I can say when they say “go back to Africa,” I say “when you send the Chinese back to China, the Italians back to Italy, etc., and you get on that Mayflower from whence you came, and give the Indians their land back, who really would be here at home?”

— Fannie Lou Hamer

To witness that calm rhythm of life revives our worn souls and recaptures a feeling of belonging to the natural world.

— George Schaller

It is mutual trust, even more than mutual interest that holds human associations together.

— H.L. Mencken

Why should I feel lonely? Is not our planet in the Milky Way?

— Henry David Thoreau

Maybe your country is only a place you make up in your own mind. Something you dream about and sing about. Maybe it’s not a place on the map at all, but just a story full of people you meet and places you visit, full of books and films you’ve been to. I’m not afraid of being homesick and having no language to live in. I don’t have to be like anyone else. I’m walking on the wall and nobody can stop me.

— Hugo Hamilton

By refreshing our sense of belonging in the world, we widen the web of relationships that nourishes us and protects us from burnout.

— Joanna Macy

It is hard to believe we feel pain for the world if we assume we’re separate from it. The individualistic bias of Western culture supports that assumption. Feelings of fear, anger or despair about the world tend to be interpreted in terms of personal pathology. Our distress over the state of the world is seen as stemming from some neurosis, rooted perhaps in early trauma or unresolved issues with a parental figure that we’re projecting on society at large. Thus we are tempted to discredit feelings that arise from solidarity with our fellow-beings.

— Joanna Macy

We need to feel the cheer and inspiration of meeting each other, we need to gain the courage and fresh life that comes from the mingling of congenial souls, of those working for the same ends.

— Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin

Invisibility can be good as a superpower. But psychiatry reveals people don’t like it very much.

— Joyce Rachelle

No person from Asia shows up in the U.S. and automatically feels linked to people from other Asian countries. What binds us together? American racism. Racism is about dehumanizing us, but racial identity isn’t bad. Racism strips me of my humanity, and racial identity hands it right back. Racial identity is beautiful. Racial identity is powerful. God made us different and lovely and through the ugliness of white supremacy, some of us have found belonging.

— Laura Mariko Cheifetz, Race Gives Me Poetry

Once we are made aware of the universality of our angsts and joys, we become one under the sky of humanity.

— Mala Naidoo

I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.

— Maya Angelou

Myth expresses in terms of the world — that is, of the other world or the second world — the understanding that man has of himself in relation to the foundation and the limit of his existence.

— Paul Ricoeur

People inside of belonging systems are very threatened by those who are not within that group. They are threatened by anyone who has found their citizenship in places they cannot control.

— Richard Rohr

[H]uman existence is also essentially and inescapably social…We are individuals with a personal and unique center, but we are also just as absolutely subjects whose central ego is shaped and formed into what it really or actually is through interchange with the world and especially other people. Human existence occurs and unfolds in solidarity; we are what and who we are through our relations to others taken as individuals and collectively as society.

— Roger Haight, An Alternative Vision

Human experience of identity has two elements: a sense of belonging and a sense of being separate.

— Salvador Minuchin

Fitting is a luxury rarely given to immigrants, or children of immigrants. We are stuck in emotional purgatory. Home, somehow, is always the last place you left, and never the place you’re in.

— Scaachi Koul

That is what compassion does. It challenges our assumptions, our sense of self-limitation, worthlessness, of not having a place in the world, our feelings of loneliness and estrangement.

— Sharon Salzberg

The dynamism of any diverse community depends not only on the diversity itself but on promoting a sense of belonging among those who formerly would have been considered and felt themselves outsiders.

— Sonia Sotomayor

Spirituality is allowing compassion and love to flourish. When belongness begins, corruption ends.

— Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Our longing for community and purpose is so powerful that it can drive us to join groups, relationships, or systems of belief that, to our diminished or divided self, give the false impression of belonging. But places of false belonging grant us conditional membership, requiring us to cut parts of ourselves off in order to fit in. While false belonging can be useful and instructive for a time, the soul becomes restless when it reaches a glass ceiling, a restriction that prevents us from advancing. We may shrink back from this limitation for a time, but as we grow into our truth, the invisible boundary closes in on us and our devotion to the groupmind weakens. Your rebellion is a sign of health. It is the way of nature to shatter and reconstitute. Anything or anyone who denies your impulse to grow must either be revolutionised or relinquished.

— Toko-pa Turner, Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home
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