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We Are Children of a Different Tribe

I am not a Native American.

Nor am I a child of the dominant Christian (or anti-Christian) culture of America.

I grew up in the shelter of UU Societies (UU: a European-American free religious community, for tradition's sake named Unitarian Universalist, more accurately understood as Unitarian Universalist Trancendentalist Humanist Feminist Pagan.) I was taught by Jews, Hippies, Asians, Scientists, Montessorians. I learned in Sunday School to be skilled in trance journeying, to visualize myself as a tree, to cast circles invoking the Four Directions, to gather for celebration and meditation on the turning of the seasons, to invent my own ritual expressions as my spirit moves. The word God was not feared, but was translated for children as love, or mystery, or specialness. At thirteen I was gathered in a safe and sacred place with others of my age, and taught that sexuality was an interesting, good, and special thing, well worth making careful decisions about. We were taught about disease and birth control, about shyness and communication, about honoring homosexuality and masturbation, about the goodness of our bodies. We were taught to talk with one another with frankness, care, and trust. We were not divided by gender; I had never heard of a world ruled by an old white man in the sky. I slept in comforting embraces with friends of both sexes, knowing there is safety in togetherness, knowing our elders trusted our wisdom.

I was not taught that my upbringing was unusual; I was not taught that any of this was different from what other kids learn.

But our Youth know that they are different. They give all kinds of names to this feeling of difference: they say, I'm a vegan, I'm a queer, I'm a Pagan, I'm a punk rocker.

I'm here to say: the reason we feel we are different is because we are different. Our formative experiences-- of childhood, of youth, of spiritual transformation-- are profoundly different than those of the dominant culture. We are Children of a Different Tribe.

Text from Children of a Different Tribe - UU Young Adult Developmental Issues by Sharon Hwang Colligan
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