Open Future NZ "Be the change you want to see in the World"
Mahatma Gandhi
Building Memberships by John S Veitch
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Human beings are social animals.  We need to be recognised as members of social groups that are important to us.  Building an "Open Future©" is easier if your membership of these groups is secure.

Obviously the first social group critical to our lives is the family.  Here we learn language, how to think, who and what to be afraid of, and how to get the essential things of life.  We learn how to negotiate with others, how to behave well, and also how to fight.  We learn to play games, how to win and how to lose.  

Our family introduces us to the shopping mall, to the playground, to school and church, and to the wider family.  In each of these places we have to learn new behaviours, new rituals and new words.  By the time we are 7 or 8 we are thoroughly indoctrinated with the sub-culture of our immediate surroundings.  Our parents and the wider family take great care about this.  They expect us to be just like them.  

Until about 1920, in most families children followed the social and economic paths their parents had taken. That was not true for my father, born 1917, nor for me born 1942.  I was the first in my family to leave high school with a certificate, and the first to attend university, although I started ten years late in my 30's.  In New Zealand, education to achieve a leaving certificate at high school, and tertiary education of some kind, only became widely available from the mid 1960's on.  This process enabled the students to gain membership of new groups, and to take up opportunities denied to their parents.  With education a wider "Open Future©" became possible.  

Group members recognise each other.  The clues that confirm our membership may be very subtle, often contained in the language one uses.  Generally there is no need for secret handshakes or passwords.  Open a discussion on any topic and within 10 minutes all the participants will have revealed their membership status, though that was never the subject of the conversation.  Membership carries with it many obligations.  The process of carrying out those obligations identifies you.  Your choice of words, your attitude to risk and to debt, the political views you hold, your knowledge of science of the arts, quickly reveals who you are.  Being recognised is important.  You have responsibilities as a "member" to speak in certain ways and hold appropriate viewpoints.  "Members" are invited into new conversations, members are made privy to "secrets" and offered the opportunity to inquire about jobs that have not yet been advertised.  Membership offers privileges.  

Membership is usually the key to being able to do something of significance.  To be offered that task, one must first be trusted.  Membership allows you to choose do meaningful work.  

Gregory Bateson tells us the "Context is everything".  Fact, or knowledge on their own mean nothing until they are put into context.  Membership of a group helps to give you that context.  We can be effective when we live in a world that is "joined together", Bateson says, and the way we most easily understand what we know and how it fits together is by making up a story.  The story of the groups where your membership is strong is the story of your life.  

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by John S Veitch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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