Last week we went to the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago to see a production of "Tribes" by Nina Raine.
The play concerns a particularly dysfunctional family whose one son is born deaf. Rather than have him learn sign language, the boy was brought up to read lips and is quite adept at it.
Later, he meets a young woman. She was raised by a deaf mother and is proficient at signing. She introduces him to the world of those who communicate mainly through signing. This makes the son feels he belongs to a new tribe and it creates problems with his family.
I just thought that the director's notes about belonging to a tribe was very interesting and wondered about what really makes a tribe and which ones we easily belong to, probably without even giving it much thought.
Naturally, your immediate family is your most prominent tribe and the one from which most outsiders recognize you belong. If you're lucky enough to not belong to a tribe like the family in "August: Osage County," your family tribe gives you a real sense of belonging.
The way one family celebrates holidays or what holidays they hold most dear, traditions, life styles and even language are distinctive displays of your very own tribe. Take language, for instance.
Growing up in the Faulkner tribe, the room with the "nice" furniture was the front room. Actually it was pronounced as a single word "frontroom" with no space in between. Our Kosalko tribe has a living room instead.
I have no idea how that was changed, but my kids never had a front room.
We also had a couch, not a davenport or sofa that most of my college friends had.
Growing up, we kept things in the "ice box." Even though I have a real oak icebox in my kitchen, my kids always found food in the refrigerator instead. They knew chips and snacks were kept in the "icebox."
I know I say "warsh" instead of wash from growing up in the Faulkner tribe. Thankfully, that little piece of language has not been passed on in our own tribe.
Likewise, I'm sure each family tribe has their own little language idioms that they share.
But as the son who moved into a new tribe of signing, each of us also belongs to other tribes. I think you see that a lot in Whiting when it comes to people's ethnic backgrounds.
Even though I consider myself part of the Irish tribe, my own children feel themselves part of the Slovak and Polish tribes due to their heritage.
I believe that churchgoers feel themselves of a particular tribe. It may begin with their shared religious beliefs, but then it becomes even more meaningful when you belong to a particular parish.
As human beings, the sense of belonging is so very important. I know how important it is for me to feel part of the theater tribe in northwest Indiana as well.
Each tribe you belong to is so special to your life. Consider your own tribes and how they affect your life.