United we stand.
The verity of the statement is timeless. It has been the mantra behind India's independence and the credo of many organizations. It has been the guiding principle of many a family and many groups of friends who have stuck together through thick and thin. It is also something that people with common goals (but not necessarily of similar outlook) have used from time to time. I stress on the word used. This is when the statement becomes a mockery and is subsequently reduced to mutual back scratching for mutual benefit. You might wonder what's wrong with that. Aren't we all inter-dependent beings, living in society as symbiotic creatures bonded to each other? Sigh. How or where can I even begin to explain? Look around. You can find examples everywhere, in every aspect of life.
Experts who study group dynamics have a term called cliques. It's supposed to be a high school phenomenon, but some of these extend into adult life as well. Hindi TV soaps gave examples of sisters in law ganging up against the newly wed bahu. It's a group with restricted entry. And they have targets. And they are mean. (Not that cliques are confined to soap operas or chick lit novels).
So...what's the big deal?
A lot actually. Cliques are damaging--they erode self confidences, they create silos and unhealthy competition, and they stop growth and independent thinking. Suddenly, the group is making all the decisions: who to talk to and how, who to admit into the group, and how to spend your time.
Probably unexplored is an aspect that's scary, to say the least: the clique can potentially get away with bad decisions and tardy work if it's an influential group in an organization. Birds of the same feather flock together. Another saying whose truth rings out far and wide, and has been reduced to a cliché. Indeed, sometimes, this becomes the motto of members of a clique whose sole aim is to get ahead and gain influence. That's when the seemingly childish phenomenon rears its ugly head in diverse forms elsewhere, to the detriment of society.
Hopefully, each one of us will examine whether we are becoming part of a clique, whether a clique is exerting its influence near us, and whether there are victims and collateral damage. Hopefully, we are sensitized to the dangers involved and take appropriate steps.