Oh Yeah, Well, I’m Going to Scream About How Great You Are


Quite a while back,my friend Cameron–who is currently stationed with the Peace Corps in Cape Verde (Africa)–blogged about an ancient African ritual.

He said that when a person violated tribal rule, instead of shaming the person, they put the offender in the center of the village and the entire tribe gathered around that person in a circle.

For the next hour or two, everyone in the village shouted out all of the good things the offender had done; all of their character qualities; all of the things that were true and admirable about that person. By the end of this, the violator was usually in tears, which was when the village embraced the person and threw a party.

Apparently, variations of this ritual survive to this day.


I want to do that for other people.

But I’ve missed my chance a few times.

And sometimes–sigh–I need people to do that for me.

To remind me I contributed some good that survives any hardship.

To reassure me I’m not alone in contributing to hurt or dysfunction.

Don’t you?

This is part of a series on Forgiveness, which included these posts: Person of the Zero Chance, Will the Real Crazy People Please Stand Up?, and The Something that is Missing is Forgiveness.)

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  • comment-avatar
    mechelle February 21, 2010 (9:10 pm)

    Well,I typed out something really good,and lost it.
    Anyhow,the shortened version is:
    This would be a great idea,that I could use myself too at times.
    I am already well aware of what I do wrong or where I fall short.It would be good to be reminded of the opposite instead.
    This does go along with the basis of forgiveness well too.Because we think that they’ll never realize how they’ve hurt us,unless we remind them.When revenge is never ours to begin with.Its Gods to do that part.
    For me,one of the best examples of that that I have seen is in The Green Mile,when the head guard treats everyone like a person,instead of the crime they’ve been convicted of.
    Even if thats not the best example,it showed alot to me on that subject.Because if we are honest,our first reaction would never be that.
    Shaming is more along the lines of what comes up first.
    Well,thats as much of it as I remember now.I’m never short on words either.

  • comment-avatar
    Michelle February 22, 2010 (8:39 am)

    Love this.
    sometimes in my highschool classroom if a kid puts down another, I will make them say 3 nice things. The kids love it…and the other classmates police it even better than I do.
    But I love this picture of an entire village shouting out good things….

  • comment-avatar
    Mike Butcher February 22, 2010 (11:43 am)

    I love it! I think we too often put the focus on what someone has done wrong and lash out at them. The idea here focuses on the positive. I think we all need to put this into practice. Maybe we can’t put someone in a circle and yell at them, but we can lift them up and point out all the great things they do.

    Thank you for sharing!

  • uberVU - social comments February 22, 2010 (11:48 am)

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  • comment-avatar
    Shellie (baylormum) February 22, 2010 (12:20 pm)

    One way an addict in recovery reclaims themselves is with character assets. I was not (and am not) all bad. I did some really stupid things (unlike me, ever). That doesn’t mean the bad things are being covered up, but if I feel less like a piece of doo-doo, I am more likely to be honest about dealing with those bad things. God has been great at reminding of the assets since I don’t like to find those in myself. I confuse it with ego sometimes. It’s not about ego, it’s about being humble enough to accept those good qualities. I AM worthy and deserving of a better life.