In order to save some readers some time, super-lib “Demo-rats” and far-right Nazi hopefuls can be excused to other articles. Anyone left who is, at a minimum worried about the tenor of discourse in our country today all the way to believing this is a pivotal point in our democratic way of government, here are a couple of thoughts.
There are some serious wounds in our social and political fabrics these days. Wounds which, if they receive voluntary and conscious attention, may heal. If left unattended, there is a very strong possibility the remaining scars will cripple this country for many years to come.
For background, I’m a supporter of less bureaucracy, free enterprise, less free handouts, less over-indulgence of non-contributors. I am also a fan of civility and respect for alternative views and the diversity and welcoming of all to America along with what I hope is an understanding that the world is evolving at an accelerated pace.
Evolution, maybe even revolution, is happening in economies, power bases, social norms, belief in past ways of doing things and how best to address the future. The speed of this change is truly recognized by only a few. More often the new technologies, the new ways of doing things, the new types of jobs that are displacing old ways of making a living create subtle fears and uneasiness as very little can be compared to the way things used to be.
The amazing “thing” that infuses this new world into our lives in one form or another, the internet, facilitates dissemination of thoughts and ideas in creative, informative, enlightening and sadly malevolent ways. On the dark side it is a fertile ground for cocoon mentalities or tribalism. Whether you like the word tribalism or not, it is endemic around the world.
In his book Primal Fear, Robert Smith points out the following: “A new and particularly destructive form of tribalism is on the rise. We live in communities of the “like-minded,” seek out news media that reinforce our own biases, talk at each other, not with each other, and increasingly we see the world as “them and us.” This human condition is heartbreaking and advantages no one.”
Today in the U.S. I fear this tribalism is blinding us to the realities of the situation. Anyone who doesn’t share my same beliefs is the devil incarnate. Those that espouse my way of thinking, regardless of their personal character, are knights in shining armor. We’re making judgements of events based on calculated, targeted messaging, largely from the fringes and/or manipulators of both sides. Communications which are taken at face value with no reflection on whether it’s true and based on fact or is arriving from my tribal peers and therefore must be gospel arrive hourly.
And then we shut our mental and emotional doors to other ideas and opinions. We have to break this cycle consciously even though it will be quite difficult at times. If this tribalism starts to harden in the youth and children of today, we’ll have new Northern Irelands, new Basques and Spain with their decades of divisiveness and often worse. Remembering the truth of “The world was not given to us by our parents, rather it is lent to us by our children,” it follows that “If we don’t change our direction, we’re likely to end up where we’re headed!”