Tribalism, the greatest threat to humanity itself.
In the recent light of the electronic haze of the latest 2016 US Presidential Election coverage
kerfuffle, Saturday Night Live among others has taken a swipe at the candidacy of Donald Trump. The skit features several white comedians being unusually normal, till at some point the connection is made to Trump and his dance with the ugly side of white tribalism in the United States. Yet this candidate appears to be willing to embrace that ugly side, at least for the sake of electioneering and ultimately winning the Republican nomination for President. I have viewed the clip and want to try and use it as an example of why my title for this post matters.
The Federal Representative Republic that the founding fathers left for us is ultimately a human institution, thus they recognized the frailty of the human condition when power is granted or used by any governing body. They saw the need to instill within their documentation of the guidelines of how that power was to be structured and used but more importantly how to restrict that use of power to avoid the dangers of tyranny of the majority. And while our history is replete with examples of "legitimate" use of that power as we have advanced within the understanding the unifying bonds of our shared humanity, that now in the aftermath were not morally just or ethical uses of that power.
The repeated commentary that Mr. Donald Trump is a lesser demagogue in the vein of an "American Hitler" is profoundly disturbing to this author and a great many others. Yet his rise to national fame is not some unknown effect of a societal pressures and fears being manipulated. Nor is he alone in his manipulations of symbols and imagery that evoke the justification for those comparisons to the epitome of the "Evil Empire" of Nazi Germany. Sadly he is yet another willing to exploit a need within the human psyche, that need to belong and to identify with others of like mind or of social, cultural, religious, or even political views.
I am referring to the concept of "tribalism" or as I define it, "the need to belong to a group that provides an identity that marks those who belong as somehow superior or worthy of greater power". This compelling need for many if not most of humanity to belong and to be deemed worthy of their tribe's place as first among equals, in and of itself has no moral or ethical value. But the actions taken to secure and retain that tribal identity and then the use of that tribal's rightful place or power to subjugate those who are not apart of the tribe is, in point of fact what makes such actions utterly devoid of any redeeming value or bluntly stated "evil".
We must recognize the inherent call to action that our history compels us to act in defense of humanity and ultimately ourselves. Tribalism in all its forms must be completely and utterly rejected if we are to truly achieve the "American Dream." Identity must be shaped to recognize that all life is sacred and holy, that all human beings are united in the common bond of existence and that all have the right to exist. The cults of individuality and self are dangerous in their seductions of our will to move forward as a society and people.
Our mad rush to be unique or at least be part of that special group is what allows us to commit horrors upon each other with depressing frequency. I call upon each of us to examine our inner-most thoughts and feelings, so as to identify that which would lend itself to a tribalistic view of the world around us. Recognize where that tribalism could and can does lead us towards inhumanity towards those who are not part of our tribe. Active and conscious, we must be in combating this darkness that resides within us all.
If we fail to do this, we do so at our own peril....