This is the fourth of a four-part series called “We Can Build a Beautiful City.”
The level of divisiveness and rancor in our country is operating at extremely unhealthy levels. There are serious questions I have as to whether our shaky union can continue.
In the first part of this series, I was hoping to inspire local people to take ownership of their community’s challenges instead of outsourcing responsibility.
In the second part of this series, my hope was to encourage people to be the kind of truly free Americans our Constitution guarantees by refusing to be ambivalent about seeking out the truth which can set us free.
In the third part of this series, I wanted to normalize difference, dissent, and disagreement as one of those characteristics we should expect in a democracy. Tolerance of other truth-seekers is what enables us to live in a free society.
There is one more challenge to building a beautiful city I want to address: tribalism.
Tribal identities are to be expected
For most of human history, we have organized ourselves as social animals into tribes.
Families group together around common ancestors. Groups of families develop identities around ethnic similarity and create cultural norms that bind them together. Countries and nations structure authority and law around geographic boundaries. Individuals and families unite under the banner of religious creeds and practices (Christians, Muslims, atheists).
Americans organize themselves around political beliefs (Republicans, Democrats), economic theories (socialists, capitalists), fitness practices (CrossFit, yoga), and any other number of criteria. In recent years we have organized around vaccines, mask-wearing practices, and even race theory (critical race theory vs. anti-CRT, Black Lives Matter vs. All Lives Matter).
Birds of a feather flock together.
For the purpose of this piece, I have chosen to view these groups as tribes of a sort due to the fact that they share a set of tribe-like characteristics. Those traits are: