It’s Time to Beware of Cultural Tribalism

Where your allegiance is, your behavior will follow

Photo by Fredox Carvalho on

As I stand in my yard in the morning, my bare feet pressing against the leaf riddled ground of mid-November, I’m entranced by the warm-cool wind as it glides over my face. It’s scent offering a petrichor of a time long passed.

It is within these small moments in the early morning where I’m reminded of the days when this land was pure, settled by a people with deep reverence for the natural world, a people who relied on her blessings, and each other, for survival. And though this time was different from our own, much of our population here in the west are slowly returning to a mode of tribalism.

But what we see today is nothing akin to the days when our native ancestors lived as part of sacred tribal brotherhoods, forged of true familial bonds.

It is here where we must tread cautiously if our society will survive.

“A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.” 

― Seth Godin, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us

Today we see tribes forming, one after another. From large to small, nuclear in their modalities.

We see friends becoming enemies, families breaking apart. We hear the great trumpets of tribal mouthpieces calling their people to stand firm, even in the face of loving bonds, of age-old friendships and long held family traditions.

We see the mountain of disaster begin to pile high, all for allegiance to the tribe and its thought machine.

This divide is now an abyss, separating the hearts of men, as apparent in our politics as it is in our personal lives. And the tribe wars on, eliminating and ostracizing anyone unwilling to speak their words as one with the tribe.

It is here where we’ve lost our love for fellow man, for our brothers and sisters, as different as they may be, as unique their voices are.

But we do have hope where optimism may fall short.

Photo by Rosemary Ketchum on

Our tribes are all around us, standing in line formations, puffing out their chests across the divide. Daring those standing opposite them to come and fight. And this is evident in every form.

The atheist wars with the faithful.

The liberal chastises the conservative.

The republican abhors the democrat.

The wealthy kick dirt over the common man.

The poor resent the rich.

The bare faced growl at the mask wearers.

These are our tribes, and there are far more than the few mentioned here.

Recently, not quite a month ago, I made the conscious effort to remove myself from Facebook, a platform I’ve been on since 2008. Though I haven’t deleted the profile, I’ve removed all apps, and for my own personal reasons.

The noise has become too intrusive.

Left and right, no longer can you have meaningful conversation. No longer can you stay in touch with friends without staying in touch with their political views. No longer can you offer an opinion without being torn apart by a pack of wolves or hacked to pieces by an angry tribe.

The barking and the biting have become too much for anyone handle. And for this reason I’ve happily walked away.

But this is where the neo-tribes have formed. This digital space has offered room to organize, deliberate, and attack others. Each day, troops of monkeys all line up to fling poop at those who dare to stare into their cages or show their teeth. And just to enter this bizarre echo-chamber will bring certain digital death.

The world is slowly losing its ability toward reason and respect.

“When we live in alignment with who we are and how we want to live, we will attract and find like-minded individuals.” 

― Akiroq Brost

A tribe offers us a place of safety, a way to survive. A group of like-minds who we can consult in times of doubt, and to offer us wisdom along our path. But the tribes we see today stand sadly with misplaced determinations. And these tribes are hungry for battle and war.

No longer is tolerance and respect given in kind to others. Instead, we are branded as outsiders, idiots, monsters, vile creatures who have no ability to reason. Yet these falsehoods are held as truth, and a false sense of reality pervades throughout the tribes of today.

The true philosopher will stand aside on the margins. He will look at the issues, the statements, the propositions and the beliefs of a person, group or collective without judgment, able to suspend his own opinions and beliefs to gain a full understanding from a position of neutrality.

And though my philosophical blood boils at times, I see only gross contempt and the lack of a will to compromise, a determination to further divide a nation and a world. One tribe, one singular voice, no free thought.

This is the direction it trends.

But I still have hope.

We are all a part of one great tribe, a tribe of life. And we all have to share the spaces we’re given.

The more one aligns with morality for the common good, the more we’ll remove the tribalist mindset, the more we’ll dismantle the gangs of religion, the iron-clad political pundits, and the extremist collectives seeking so-called “social justice.”

The more we act human, the more we’ll become human.

So embrace interest in the place of doubt. Nurture respect in the face of “being right.” Allow wisdom to stamp out ignorance on its own. And allow for those willing to listen to your truth to speak their own as well.

Allegiance to love is the only tribal value we need.

And I pray it finds us all.

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I am an artist, writer, author, philosopher and lover of nature and life. My blog offers a glimpse into my world, my thoughts, my sphere. Enjoy!

11 thoughts on “It’s Time to Beware of Cultural Tribalism

  1. The politicians and the media stoke cultural tribalism to keep everyone divided as they work to amass power and wealth.

  2. I don’t feel like this is really new. I just feel like the ways we isolated people and turned on them looked different. Before technology, the voices were there, but now they are constant and loud as well as being feed on the media fodder. I am not a person who feels like the media is this evil agent, but I do feel like it funded and feed by human fear. I am not sure what the answer is here, but I know we need to start to elevate ourselves to a higher standard or we will dissolve into something else.

      1. I think there was just less mixing with people from different backgrounds. People worked hard to keep themselves separate from those they felt were different. In addition, there were many lifestyles that were considered “unacceptable” and these have now become more accepted in our society. It is the awareness of “the other” in a person’s space which is causing some of this discord. What appeared as respect was only reserved for those who were seen as deserving. For others outside of this mainstream, there was a different set of rules.

      2. To some degree, yet there has always been the “unacceptable,” in any tribalism system—which is essentially why it’s tribal by definition. Though more people in the west may have grown tolerant, it’s the displacement of tolerance on all levels which has brought forth a boiling point. And we’ve seen this throughout history as well. As history has provided a map, this usually leads to war or mass conflict.

        Regardless, all of this is due to placing the self and personal ideology on the highest pedestal, placing apathy ahead of empathy. Whether this results in “ghosting” someone who you don’t agree with or unfriending someone, or directly slapping them in the face, it all stems from basic intolerance of others and an unwillingness to listen, compromise, or actually believe that someone else can offer value.

      3. Agreed. In the US, it is really easy to lose sight of empathy. We often take a tough stance on right and wrong. I don’t think this is new, but I think money and means allows us to isolate ourselves and delude ourselves into believing other people make their own beds as opposed to being products of our dysfunctional society.

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