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Cliques: Good, bad or indifferent?

You've heard it, haven't you? That bunch over there thinks that they are the cat's meow! They are describing a group gathered and classifying them from a distance as an exclusive small group of people. The dictionary defines this particular meani...

You've heard it, haven't you? That bunch over there thinks that they are the cat's meow! They are describing a group gathered and classifying them from a distance as an exclusive small group of people. The dictionary defines this particular meaning as snobbish or narrow coterie. If they are young males, and especially if on motorcycles, they could be labeled a gang. Today, we hear often of bullying in younger groups, which tells us that groups are a topic of all ages.

I heard it used the other day to describe a group of adults in a club that tended to seat themselves together in one section of the large room. The speaker was using it in somewhat of a critical fashion. It caused me think about that word cliques; how often is that an incorrect assessment? I've been a member of such groups, one that I've mentioned before, my 6 a.m. coffee group. We've been doing this for nearly 40 years, 365 days a year. And we don't think we are anything special; in fact that is part of our frequent laughter. One of is put down in comedic fashion by friends that we know, admire and trust. It is part of our morning game, taking any wind out of even slightly perceived big-headedness.

But back to the topic, cliques, in more general terms. The group cited in my opening were very likely long-time club members, seated with fairly good friends of lengthy periods, whose habit it is to frequent the club at roughly this same period of time. If the individual making that criticism were to walk over and say their name, I'm a new member of the community and/or this club and would like to make your acquaintance. Am I welcome?

My wager would be that this individual would soon be on the inside looking out rather than on the outside looking in.

I've personally had welcoming experiences like that in our region, far and wide, when traveling for my work. I would go over to a group and say why I was in their community, where I was from, and could I join them. Never was turned down or left aside in following discussions. This would be early in the mornings, when I'd stop at a downtown restaurant with several cars parked outside.

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Another reason for my writing this particular column. This works the other way as well. Members of the group seeing a single individual setting all by themselves should, at least occasionally, invite such an individual over. We haven't done much of that in our 6 a.m. group. We've had new members join us or we would be only be a foursome as the grim reaper has claimed many along those nearly 40 years. Why don't I specify the exact number of years? We really can't agree on exactly how long it has been.

One thing I do know after hearing this word clique used as it was, and giving it some serious thought. I will be walking over to a single individual at Julie's on occasion and asking, "Would you care to join our table?"

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