The porcupines all lived in the evergreen forest, contentedly munching away day after day at the bark of various trees. It was pleasant in the evergreen forest, and none of the porcupines had any complaints. They all went their own way filling their soft bellies with whatever they could find to gnaw on.

Then one day they scented winter on the air. Gone were the musty smells of autumn. Instead, a sharp, barren wind began to rustle the needles of the trees. Temperatures dropped, snow began to fall, and the porcupines began to shiver. Instinctively they began to search for one another. Their beady eyes looked to and fro as they waddled around the forest floor. Their blunt noses sniffed the stinging air.

They gathered to one another, desperate for warmth, crowding into a small cave. But as they snuggled closer to one another, they began to utter little porcupine cries of pain. Dismayed, they all retreated to the perimeter of the cave, unable to understand what had happened. But it was so cold that before long they were sidling warily back together again. No sooner had they gotten close enough to enjoy the warmth than they began to cry out in pain and retreat from one another again.

Time after time they repeated this process, tossed to and fro by the pain of being alone and cold, as well as by the offensive quills that pricked and stabbed them when they got too close. After much experience they arrived at a solution: They all decided to draw as near as they could under the circumstances, yet keep a safe distance to avoid getting hurt.

So it is with human society. Man comes together to form a social order, seeking to escape the emptiness and monotony that comes from a completely self-centered existence. But before long, their repulsive qualities, faults, and unbearable mistakes cause them to recoil from one another. And so they develop manners, refinements, and codes of conduct that keep them from getting too close, but allow them to experience a little comfort from one another's presence.

In the sixties, however, many saw through the sterile, hypocritical customs of the former generation. Why be bound up and hung up? Why try to live by a bunch of out-dated values and customs? Why not love? Why not live together? Why not be warm and kind and close? But it didn't take long to find the answers.

There was a reason that past generations built so many walls around themselves: they were limited in their power to love sacrificially. And what about our generation? We've learned to "accept" everyone, to settle for "unity in diversity," to be "open," but to "keep our own space." But isn't that just an informal version of the customs the past? And who is the bigger hypocrite — the one who pretends to be normal, or the one who pretends to love?

The Twelve Tribes is a confederation of twelve self-governing tribes, composed of self-governing communities. We are disciples of the Son of God whose name in Hebrew is Yahshua. We follow the pattern of the early church in Acts 2:44 and 4:32, truly believing everything that is written in the Old and New Covenants of the Bible, and sharing all things in common.

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