Tribalism is rampant on both the micro and macro scale. Whether in contentious actions by individuals or entire nations, it kicks into play as a survival mechanism by biological evolutionary roots.

This because through it, people ensure that their own group gets the power, territory and goods. So of course there is going to be racism, casteism, hatred of people of other cultures and religions, etc.

While helpful in cave days to keep one’s own clan alive vs another one doing so if in competition for food and rights, it has supposed value still today and in other time periods post cave days. So think of peasant revolutions throughout history such as in France, people on streets with knives and guns killing the perceived “other”, people being burned or gunned down in places of worship and wars where the theme is my group vs yours so as to gain resources and geopolitical (territorial) control.

Then there are the pariahs kicked out of the tribe like the peaceful pacifist Quaker killed by hanging during the USA Civil War for nonconformance to expectations by his side in the war or the family member abandoned for the same deviance related to not fitting into the group (I.e., a gay child or someone who just doesn’t act right according to norms in place). These people exist everywhere across the globe.

I don’t have much tribalism in me as I welcome all sorts of people Into my life. However, don’t start me on psychopaths as I definitely don’t want them in the tribe.

The othering and tribalism took place in Nazi Germany. Today we do it with all of the creatures and plants that we consume, as well as other resources that we destroy. It is a necessity to stay alive.

And who would not think that terrorists have a sense of othering and tribalism? Certainly it is not I.

Then how do we rid ourselves of this orientation? Predictably It seems to be only through our getting rid of contenders and prey notions. Likewise it is about our getting to deeply understand the one initially perceived as the other in my view. Moreover it is someone or something viewed as not like one’s own kind and worthy of shunning or destruction that must me mastered as a concept and feeling.

Sally Dugman lives in MA, USA


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