Human Beings Can’t Help Being Tribal; The Trick Is To See As Many Other Humans As Possible As “Your Tribe”

I’m an Angeleno. As crazy-making as living in LA can make you, I love living here and I feel a very real kinship with everyone else who loves living here. Hell — I feel a kinship for those who DON’T love living here. I get it. I understand them and feel those same tugs. If you’re an Angeleno — period — I think of us as the same tribe.

Now, some of my LA tribe-mates are Clippers fans. Me? I’ve always been a Lakers fan. I was out of my head with Lakers Love during the Kobe Bryant years (lost it all during the post Kobe fiasco) and saw members of the Clippers tribe as unworthy. If that same person stepped outside of Staples Center and put down their Clippers merch? We’re Angelenos standing proudly together again.

I’ve been an east-sider most of my 35+ years in LA. Everyone who lives west of La Brea is a Martian. Unless they’re a Lakers fan. Or a Angeleno.

That’s the point. Every time I pull the camera back — and see my kinship in wider terms — I SEE kinship. Angeleno though I am, I also take great tribal pride in being a Californian.

I take great tribal pride in being an American. I take great tribal pride in being a Jew. And a Progressive. And a lover of reading. And a graduate of Vassar College. And a graduate of Pikesville High School in 1977. And a classmate at Fort Garrison Elementary School. And anyone who was ever born in Rome, New York (where I was born while my father was in the Air Force).

But I also take great tribal pride in being a human being.

We ARE all in this together. The more of us who get that fact — who see our common purpose and tribal kinship — the better.

Our Problem Isn’t That Humans Are “Tribal”, It’s That Humans Aren’t “Tribal ” Enough…

The English Premiership Football season started today. My side — I’m a Tottenham Hotspur fan (through marriage) going back 30 years — won! Though they played a dull first half, in the second half, the Spurs looked more Spurs-like. They pressed, they out-hustled, they attacked relentlessly. Our new guy (Ndombele) was great and Harry Kane who almost never scores in August, scored two goals! If you’re not a Spurs supporter like I am, that probably means nothing to you.

I understand. Spurs aren’t your tribe. You might be an Arsenal supporter (in which case piss off!) or you love Chelsea or Man U or Man City. I’ve got a good friend who supports West Bromwich-Albion (relegated last season to the League Championship, a tier below the Premier League). You might not even like footie. You might prefer American Football. Or hockey or baseball.

You might be a Lakers fan or a Dodgers fan — in which case, so am I. It’s not a problem for me (or anyone really) to take off their Spurs kit and put on a baseball cap or football jersey instead. One knows one can support several teams at the same time. One can belong to those tribes, as it were.

A fan base for a sports team — or even a singer — that’s a tribe, too. When you’re at a concert, surrounded by people who adore the performer as much as you do — you feel a sense of community with them. You’re both members of the same tribe.

For humans, being tribal is a survival instinct. We’re social creatures. Our success as individuals depends on our ability to cut it as part of the group. It’s a sad, horrifying fact: how one does in life is connected to how one does in middle school. If you socialized well in middle school, you should do fine in life. If you sucked socializing in middle school, you have a chance now to get your socialization right — with all the success and popularity that come with it. The trick is in which tribes you strive to become part of.

In middle school, of course, success depends on finding the one tribe that will have you. If you’re lucky enough to find, join and be accepted by that tribe, nothing else matters. Regardless of what happens to you, you’ll be fine in the end cos you’ve got your tribe.

Life works the diametric opposite way. Success depends on how MANY tribes you see yourself as part of.

When the Spurs game finished this morning, the Spurs and Aston Villa, their opponents, shook hands. The players all shook hands with the refs. The Spurs tribe on the field and the Aston Villa tribe on the field stopped being opposing tribes and became, instead, a tribe of footballers who all play well enough to be in the English Premiership. The players as a group stopped (for the most part) seeing refs as strange interlopers and saw them as a different breed of soccer professional — a different branch of the same tribe as them.

The fans at Spurs new, beautiful stadium, all cheered loudly for their conquering heroes. Eventually, they’d all finish celebrating, get their stuff together and head off into the streets — still Spurs supporters but also Londoners, too.

Those Spurs supporters never stopped being Londoners, of course. At the same time that I’m a Dodgers and Lakers fan (while remaining a Spurs fan), I’m also an Angeleno. I see other Angelenos as my tribe. I see people in my neighborhood as my tribe. I see Californians as my tribe. Excepting for Trump supporters (they’re racists), I see Americans as my tribe.

The problem with white supremacists (like there’s just “one” problem with them!) is that they see white people as their tribe. That’s it — just white people. Even when they say they’re Americans, you don’t get the feeling that their idea of the “American Tribe” and ours are the same thing. Their idea of “American” is them. If you’re not them, you can’t be in their tribe. You can’t be white (of course) and you can’t be American.

If I didn’t despise them for thinking how they think, I’d feel sorry for them — same reason. They’ve gotten it backwards.

The genius of America is that anyone can be American — provided they’re willing to work their asses off and work well with other people. Likewise, Americans moving to America from all over the world embrace diversity because they come from diversity. Diversity has always been what makes America truly exceptional.

Diversity demands finding kinship with as many different tribes as one can. The more diverse your circle of friends & acquaintances, the more diverse your tribe is. Before long, you begin to see human beings as your tribe.

Imagine that — seeing other people as your tribe just because they’re people. I hope the condition is catching. I really do.

It Sucks Being Hated. It Sucks More When The Reason You’re Hated Is Entirely Based On Fiction

It sucks when the thing at the end of “I hate you because…” is bullshit.

I’m a yid. A kike. A sheeny.

I grew up part of a hated community. As a kid, you ask the obvious question — “But WHY do they hate me (never mind us)?” The answer you get back isn’t satisfying — or logical. Underneath the “because you’re a Jew” — to the reasons WHY they hate your Jewness — one finds fiction.

More to the point, one finds BULLSHIT. And Magical Thinking.

Antisemitism is not alone in its bullshittiness. Lots of white people think black people are less intelligent because of their skin color. The scientific basis for this thinking is exactly zero. It ain’t reality talking, it’s ignorant, racist bullshit. Of course.

Antisemitism is slightly different because it’s not based on an obvious tribal difference. It’s based on a story.

I bet if Jesus — a Jew every day of his life — were to be resurrected, he’d be horrified in a thousand different ways. He’d be especially horrified that HE was the reason his own tribe has been threatened ever since. Jesus preached a message so simple, even a dumb atheist can see its value and go along with it: “Do Unto Others”. It doesn’t require an ounce of ooga-booga. Jesus (I’m going with The Jesus Seminar’s findings here) never advocated for a church (he was too busy advocating against the temple ffs!) or talked about being any sort of messianic playah who was part of a complex, prophesy-following make-believe. That was Paul, actually, and the early “Church Fathers” — the boys club that put the early church together.

I recommend this book by the award-winning novelist, biographer and journalist A. N. Wilson — Paul: The Mind Of Thttps://www.amazon.com/Paul-Mind-Apostle-N-Wilson/dp/0393317609he Apostle.

The Early Church was a literal construct. The New Testament did not suddenly plop down in the middle of Rome. It was put together in order to send out a message — a story. There are loads of interesting texts that didn’t make the cut (I highly recommend The Other Bible — which includes these texts). You have to ask “Why?”

Spoiler alert — because the Early Church made up its foundational mythology out of pretty much whole cloth. They invented a “Jesus” — borrowing just enough of the original to give it flavor — then manufacturing the rest from the ground up. That included the way this fictitious version of the Jesus Character died — at the end of a process started by Jews.

In the storytelling biz, that story doesn’t sell cause it smells. If you put it in a script — changing the names, of course, to protect the innocent — it would get killed by everyone who read it because it makes no sense. Even villains have to have logic. Especially villains.

The church manufactured a fiction that worked well for them. And because it worked well, they repeated it — and repeated it ad nauseum until a literal lie became, to those without the perspective or knowledge of history, a “truth”. And that false “truth” became the basis for a massive amount of unwarranted hatred.

If the Holocaust (as studies now say) caused actual genetic mutations — the emotional reactions to the experience literally altered its’ victims DNA — it’s likely strong emotional reactions caused earlier DNA alterations to those on the other side of that equation — the perps. How else to explain the seeming hard-wiring of this hatred? Maybe I’m just being paranoid about Jew hatred being universal.

How else to explain the persistent Magical Thinking that Jews use Christian babies to make matzoh or plot — together — to take over the world through the banks and media. Jews, as a rule, tend to be pretty independent in their thinking (it’s a cultural thing for lots of us). Getting a bunch of us to be that together in our thinking so we could pull such a thing off — hasn’t actually met any Jews. That’s Magical Thinking.

Magical Thinking based on rubbish — as all Magical Thinking is.

So, here’s the punchline to the joke. It sucks to be hated because of a fiction. But — are ya ready for it? Racial hatred, tribal hatred, pretty much most hatred — it’s all is based on fiction.

We need to fix our attention on the scumbags who regularly exploit that fact. I won’t point fingers here — I’d need more fingers. We all know who those scumbags are. They’re the ones who bray bullshit — because they know how well bullshit sells — and what bullshit will do as it spreads.

What Tribalism IS & ISN’T

Our illustrious, observant MSM points out a lot these days how TRIBAL we’ve all become (and how ‘it’s both sides’ fault that we HAVE become so tribal).

As I’m fond of saying on these pages here, if you start from a place of BULLSHIT, you will only ever see BULLSHIT in front of you.  And THAT is top shelf, Grade AAA BULLSHIT.

No, both sides don’t do it.  Both sides are tribal and experience tribalism but not all tribalism is created equal.

Allow me to throw down a metaphor to illustrate:  In my time I have been an ardent Lakers Fan.  During the Kobe Bryant Championship Years, my friends loved to watch the playoff games with me at my house because regardless of how entertaining (or not entertaining) the game itself might be — I was going to put on one hell of a show.  I’m passionate.  At the time, I lived and breathed Lakers.  There were Angelenos who shared my passion and Angelenos who didn’t give a shit and even Angelenos who supported that ‘other’ LA team — the Clippers (and this was during the Donald Sterling ownership days so the Clippers were easy to hate though they were perennial underdogs).

If a tragedy had befallen Los Angeles back then — an earthquake, say (we get those here) — my intense Lakers Tribalism would have been subsumed into Being An Angeleno.  My larger tribe would have taken precedence over my smaller, more local ‘allegiance’.  Logic (and survival instinct) would have dictated it.

Tribalism is natural to any sentient being who sees companionship in another sentient being.  What happens when you add a THIRD sentient being to the mix — that’s what determines how the future tribes in that grouping will play out.  Unless, of course, both sentient beings — and then their third — are all EXACTLY ALIKE.  If THAT’S the case then we’re talking less ‘a tribe’ and more ‘automatons’.  Or maybe just a ‘Tribe’ of ‘Automatons’

Republicans.

Because we live in a ‘Both Sides Do It’ media culture, the assumption is that BOTH KINDS OF ‘TRIBALISM’ ARE EXACTLY ALIKE.  But are they?  Let’s compare —

REPUBLICAN TRIBALISM:  Makeup of Tribe: White, Christian Men principally.  The tribe’s rules & regs are designed to keep White, Christian Male Culture front and center — to keep it as THE DOMINANT CULTURE regardless of the fact that it no longer represents THE MAJORITY of the people in the culture.  In other words, Republican Tribalism seems bent on imposing ITS dying, no longer relevant, completely EXCLUSIVE culture onto the LARGER Culture.

DEMOCRATIC TRIBALISM:  Makeup of Tribe:  Everyone Else.  White, black, brown, Asian, Native American, male, female, LGBTQ, rich, poor, American or willing-to-risk-your-life-to-BECOME-an-American.

When your ‘TRIBE’ is everyone who ISN’T WHITE, CHRISTIAN, MALE?  It means YOUR ‘tribalism’ isn’t quite the same as THE WHITE GUY’S ‘tribalism’.

If DIVERSITY is a ‘tribe’?  Include me in its numbers.  More importantly, where do I send my check so I can get my ‘Membership Card’?