We Are All Tribal!

Geoffrey X Lane

Conservative Vs. Liberal

As I watched parts of the NFL Super Bowl I was reminded of how tribal we are, constantly striving for dominance and control. Even though today we think of ourselves as a sophisticated society, with good intentions and good morals I’m surprised at how tribal we are. We form tribes in all sorts of ways, we have corporate tribes, social tribes, football tribes. We are constantly coalescing into groups/tribes to gain recognition and power over other tribes.

The earliest tribes formed as a way of survival, staking out hunting grounds, competing with other tribes for finite resources. Being a bigger more powerful tribe gave us the opportunity not only to survive but to control the environment and the power to take over other tribes.

This tribal pattern, has lasted not just millennia but millions of years. It is immensely powerful and deeply compelling human trait. It influences every one of us, it tells us what to do, no matter how insane it might be! It makes us feel “right” about our behavior that has nothing to do with having a rational mind.

As we were evolving being a member of a small isolated tribe, it made perfect sense to assume that every stranger might be a potential enemy. If someone looked different, had a different language or behaved differently, you needed to be on guard. Sameness was safe, differences were dangerous.

As the human population exploded, and developed agriculture and industry, it appeared on the surface all rules had changed— radically and quickly. Everywhere, people of all races, religions and nationalities started mixing and mingling. Leading to what we assumed was a more egalitarian world.

The development of the big city way of life (the Modern Family) versus the (Duck Dynasty) rural has triggered our old tribal way of being. If one tribe feels overwhelmed or the feels threat of being dominated it reacts strongly. Tribalism has emerged today fiercely and stronger than ever. Even though sameness is no longer a guarantee of safety, millions of people remain convinced it is.

The faster the changes occur the stronger move to tribalism as the need to feel safe increases, even though it has nothing to do with survival in the original tribal sense. Will we become one large ‘Human Tribe”, I am not sure we will until we are all threatened by global catastrophe.

My personal and professional focus has been on “how” people communicate, persuade and connect with each other, both on a personal level and on a societal level.

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