By Randy Snyder
Recently, I read reviews and excerpts of a book written by Sebastian Junger regarding “Tribal Living”. It is very relative to “Tribalism” or lack of it in communities today, in the past and moreover where we live! The definition is “living together as a tribe or the social beliefs of a tribal society”.
The most elemental way to relate to living in tribes is the original inhabitants of our country, the Indians, the tribes they lived in and how they lived co-dependent on each other for merely survival. Another choice that some of us make that is ostensibly indicative of tribal living, whereby “getting along and honoring each other” is serving in the military. I recall my days of serving in the Navy in close quarters on a large aircraft carrier on how you literally had to get along with those sharing living quarters, bathrooms and everything else together. Respect for others and self-respect was essential to serving in the military. Tribalism is synonymous with sense of community, being neighborly, caring for others and empathy for anyone in distress. Those of us that grew up in small towns with tightly developed neighborhoods in Middle America during the 40’s and 50”s probably experienced tribalism. We lived together, got along together, went to school together, attended church together, played together, and were openly friendly to everybody, as we had no other choice but to follow what our parents taught us!
The many banal choices we made did not affect mutual respect and our lifestyle “back in the day”. The choices and issues ofttimes dividing us today are religion, political party, lifestyle and others in addition to those things we were born with and have no control as color of skin, nationality, even choices of changing gender and proclivities etc. Other backgrounds of people and their history that put people in “groups” that they relate to and exclude others are differing social economic classes, generational differences and even levels of education whereby if some despite living in proximity etc. are not included due to differences mentioned. The prevailing and nearly homogeneous prevailing choices that espoused tribalism were patriotism, respect for the military and police and mutual respect for each other. Even rural as opposed to city and suburban lifestyles did not matter. We respected those choices and still engendered a tribal lifestyle in varying degrees of the density and size of the tribe. A bond and common beliefs espoused mutual respect,
Social media depending on how it used can spread discourse with each other, although it can be used to show care, concern and even love. Relative to this study, I offer to you the oft times reference to the “cliques” that are mentioned as a lifestyle of accepting some and slighting or downright rejecting others. Actually, within groups with like mind sets appealing to their crowd of followers, a fiefdom becomes their small non inclusive tribe giving them a feeling of superiority not welcoming those not interested in belonging.
My only objective is not to find or assign guilt, but simply for the readers (including me!) to consider the need to contemplate the advantages of tribal mentality and the disadvantages of living without it in your life and your chosen lifestyle and friends. We have experienced many in our locality in need of a “tribe” being excluded despite their personal dilemmas and situations including merely empathy or simply day to day needs. We have experienced the same, mainly in respect to differences that should not matter, but simply a need to show mutual respect, care and as needed, a simple random act of kindness. I suggest the axiom of “paying it forward” is a good platform to apply to day to day living.
In closing, in the most opportune and greatest nation in the world that we all live in has evolved having an effect on our respect for others. It may be time to become localized and “tribal” once again due to the threats on our sovereignty from envious enemies around the world. It starts with each of us and our neighbors, family and people in general.
Reference: Sebastian Junger “Tribal” book review, Amazon
Oprah.com magazine piece “A Quest Called TRIBE” 08/17