Tribes Redux

“We hate each other by race, color, tribe, wealth, gender etc because everyone wants to feel special and different than the other. I do not however have a solution on how people can stop having an ego that makes them specially superior than the other.”

― Robert Kodingo

Some nations in Europe, and lately the United States, have been voting for leaders or policies that proclaim  nationalism, anti-immigrant and religious intolerance. There has been a significant up-tick in the level and number – now almost a daily occurrence – of violent confrontations racially and ethnically, without any indication of possible abeyance.

Things I find loathsome and abhorrent. Especially here, in the US, a nation of immigrants and freedom of religion and who for the last sixty years has promoted internationalism by multiple treaties of cooperation in multiple areas. The incoming Trump administration is still in the formative stages and there remains hope that some of his bombastic campaign declarations (illegal immigrants from Mexico are murderers and rapists, Muslim’s are terrorists) remain just that – just so much verbage – and there is still the prayer that reasonable minds might prevail here and elsewhere, where the political extremist right-wing zealots can be neutralized, and the racial and religious bigots that they attract, like ticks on the dog, can be regulated back under the rock and into the dark hole they came from.

When I read the above quote, it took me back to the post I made on June 29th, entitled “Tribes”. Card’s message in the quote is a caution against monetary and material envy and greed, but it also applies to religion and any self-driven issue. I feel the need to repost it:

“Mine mine mine. That was the curse and power of human beings—that what they saw and loved they had to have. They could share it with other people but only if they conceived of those people as being somehow their own. What we own is ours. What you own should also be ours. In fact, you own nothing, if we want it. Because you are nothing. We are the real people, you are only posing as people in order to try to deprive us of what God means us to have.”

― Orson Scott Card

This might make a good tombstone epitaph over the grave of humanity after we destroy ourselves. And I believe someday we just might. In fact, I’m a bit amazed we haven’t yet.

Ever since – some say real, others say allegorical – Adam and Eve’s son Cain killed his brother Abel in a fit of jealousy, was bannished as a result and became the progenitor of another people, we humans have divided ourselves into separate clans and tribes, states and nations, religious and political dogmas. And each, consciously or unconsciously, believes they are the true chosen ones of the god(s). 

There must be some ingrained psychological need to belong, to be a member of that group who thinks and acts most like us. And to be protective of what the group has, to denigrate that of “others”, even willing to kill to take or keep what we think is (or should be) “ours”, or to isolate or eliminate the “other”.

How else to explain racism, national patriotism, religious denominations. How else to describe the booming market of genetic testing to find one’s heritage, one’s tribe?

Those genetic tests say I’m mostly Irish-Scandinavian. I was happy to learn that – it merely confirmed what I’d always felt inside. I’m proud of my tribe.

But I don’t think mine is superior to yours. Different, maybe, and yours may not appeal to me in any way, but neither is the better. To each his own, live and let live.

I wonder what the world would have been, could be like, without conceit and jealousy?

–  Bill