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  • Writer's pictureEddie Gilman

Tribe vs. Tribalism | People Over Politics

We are approaching the new political season and all that that entails; a season which seems to bring the worst out of people, unfortunately. I’ve never been political; in fact, I loathe politics. I’ve actually never voted. Politics is a disease among humanity (IMO); it undermines the ultimate purpose of humanity as well as the very things it claims to want to resolve. It is like a group of animal activists that agree on protecting and saving animals, but when election season rolls around, people who love cats start torturing dogs and people who love dogs start torturing cats. But all in the name of “saving animals”. It is also interesting to me that we pick and choose what we are political about. For example, if you watched the recent Super Bowl halftime show and were outraged, do you also watch Dancing With The Stars or Olympic Figure Skating? Do you wear a bikini when you go to the beach? Some of the people who had the most to complain about were ironically the same people who participate in the very behavior that they act outraged about. This is politics in action, just in a non-political environment. So, is politics not the source of most hypocrisy?

Did everyone get caught up on their double standards today? Great! Let's continue...

My interest here is not to get political about politics – I remain uninterested entirely. Nor am I interested in halftime outrage smear campaigns. My interest is in pulling back the curtain on our behavior and mindset regarding it. If you believe the best in humanity and believe we all want the same things, then should our ideas about how to arrive at the same outcome pull us apart? This is the difference between tribalism and having a tribe – it is the difference between putting people over politics. Before I explain what I mean; the underlying problem is a limitation of our thinking. It is the idea that differences are bad. Politics are toxic because they thrive on the assault of other people's beliefs and values that differ from ours. As a result, it feels like an attack on someone’s identity. For example, if you identify with conservative ideals and someone attacks those ideals, you feel personally attacked, even if that person was not personally attacking you. This is how politics undermines our ability to see the bigger picture – that people are more important than politics.

That sounds awfully simple on paper; after all, if it were that simple then why can’t we all get along? This is the underlying issue that goes unnoticed; that differences are actually necessary. It’s understanding the power of being a part of a tribe without falling into the trap of tribalism. The issue is that of maturity. It is the immaturity of pride and ego that prevents us from understanding that we were not created to sit on the sidelines and play jury. Life was not bestowed upon us to watch others revel and argue about ideas and outcomes that we agree (or disagree) with. We were created to have a purpose; people are the purpose we were created for. We were all created to contribute to humanity, but not all people are created to interact with each other. If we can come to understand this on an individual level, then assume personal responsibility for it, then we can focus on impacting and changing the world the way we were meant too. And focus on the people we have a sphere of influence.

We have to learn to stay in our lane.

We are all a part of a tribe; that is why we like people who are most like ourselves. This concept is a lot like dating or relationships; you aren’t going to be attracted to every person of the opposite sex you meet. But that has nothing to do with your value, dreams, desires, goals, opinions and/or level of potential in this world (or theirs). It simply means you and this other person are not a good match. It’s really that simple! There is no need to hate them, belittle them, or wish harm upon them. There will be people in this life that will rub you the wrong way. Regardless of what they believe, what political affiliation they hold, etc. The mere presence of some people can rub us the wrong way. Acknowledging that is not wrong – it’s honest. However, we should understand and respect the fact that The Law of Opposites is unavoidable. We are never going to escape a reality where things we don’t like exist. But, if we can come to appreciate the fact that they exist for the same reasons we do – that they are here for a greater purpose the same as we are (even though it may be different and make no sense to us) – then we can focus on what we can control and do our part.

This brings me full circle to the point (I believe) we should all be invested in – what actually creates change or makes an impact – talking about something or doing it? If I don’t like seeing trash on the side of the road but I never pick any of it up (perhaps because I believe I shouldn’t have to pick up someone else’s trash) then do I really have the right to complain about it? Because if I do complain about it, then I am simply stating that someone else should pick the trash up because I don’t like it. And that is simply childish and immature. And sadly, that is the major political mentality that turns good people into victims (and jerks). It is powerless victim (and lazy) mentality that demands humanity should exist to make a single individual comfortable. While that individual holds to the belief that nothing is required of them; that they are entitled to complain and do nothing at the same time. Entitlement insists:

If only we could have everything our way!

If only everyone thought the way I do!

It is the lie of tribalism (that one group or person is better than another) that fuels the very issues we all say we want to be resolved. It is the ultimate form of pride. And the stronger the ego the less willing we are to set aside ourselves for the sake of the whole. Sometimes it’s not either/or. Sometimes it is both. We need both sides of the coin to bring balance. It’s the lack of respect for our differences and understanding their power that prevents it from being shown. It’s OK if a shoe doesn’t fit you; let the person it was designed for wear it. That should be perfectly OK. But in politics, it rarely ever is.

Nature is the best example of harmony expressed through disharmony. There are things in nature that cannot happily coexist – yet they do. Nature respects itself. You won’t find a grassy meadow in a desert. At the end of the day, I believe we all want peace, love, fulfillment, and unity. We all have different ideas about how to get there. Some of our ideas are good, some of our ideas are not so good. This is why our best option is to respect our differences and focus on what we can control. Take charge of the things you can control; express your opinions on how things could be better (after all, that’s the beauty of this country). But be willing to put people before opinions. If a house is burning and there is child inside, does the fireman care what race, age, color, or political affiliation its parents are? Would it matter to you, if you were in a position to save a child from a burning house? What matters more at that moment, the political elements surrounding the child, or saving the child's life?

Politics/tribalism will always spark emotion. It is designed too! Politics is about choosing sides, winning, and being right. It is the ultimate sin against humanity. It is the product that nobody really wants, but we are forced to be exposed to anyway. And as a result, we buy into it, then get sucked into it; and before we know it, we lose ourselves as a result. Am I saying that we shouldn’t care about the decisions being made or the process by which they are made? Not at all! There are components of politics that are unavoidable that affect us all. And that is certainly a process to be involved in. But how we conduct ourselves and treat our fellow mankind is totally under our control. If Gandhi can lead a powerful non-violent revolt as a result of taking personal responsibility of what he could control, then we have the same ability. If we did a better job of protecting our peace, we would stop whoring it out to things that turn it into hate. If we would take a step back and honor the value of our peace, perhaps we would be less prone to investing it in things that rob us of its presence. I can't tell you how many people I see on Social Media, who let politicians they don't know, news outlets that have an agenda, completely ruin their day and put them in a horrible mood. They are completely controlled by their external environment. They are powerless by choice.

There is always a sacrifice in life. Those who want to change apart from it are truly delusional. We don’t get to have our cake and eat it too. And as the old adage goes – the world doesn’t revolve around us. It exists to show us the good we are capable of when we stop being selfish and start living our purpose. Without the contrast of pain, we wouldn't know pleasure. Without sadness, we wouldn't understand and appreciate joy. Life is a paradox of contrast that demands we learn to coexist in spite of it. No one is exempt from this lesson. The greatest form of treason is the assault on humanity; where tribalism seeks to dominate. Pride forgoes hate. Hate forgoes extermination. Adolf Hitler is one of the greatest examples of this; whose very existence was an extreme political agenda.

Is politics worth more than our humanity it was created to serve? Are our differences so important that we can’t find a way to agree on what we all desire most? Politics are here to stay; who are we, and who can we be apart from them? What power do we have when we stay in our own lane? What people could we be called to impact and influence? What lessons of harmony within disharmony can we learn from nature, that would enable us to trust that we can find peace, love, unity, and harmony while appreciating something that is foreign to us? Do politics offer the solutions we truly seek, and if not, then are they worth the loss of our peace? Are they worth dividing humanity over? Is being right more important than learning to relate? If we all truly want the same result, can we remain divided and achieve that outcome? In an age where politics and politicians fail us, what can we do to become the change we seek through them?

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