Saturday, February 15, 2014

Tribalism versus Universalism

Lions have prides, dolphins have pods, wolves have packs, and humans have tribes. Members of these groups are quais-relatives, usually related by birth and genetic affinities.

Although this has the advantage of providing protection, co-operation for food resources and procreation, among other things, the downside is dire. Outside this ring of mutual identification, sentient beings who are not part of that the community are viewed as "the other."

The idea that an individual or animal is somehow not entitled to the same courtesies as a member of the clan has been the cause of fighting on a scale large and small since the dawn of recorded history.

Have you ever heard of siblings who almost kill each other within the confines of their homes, but if someone threatens one of the members from the outside, the family immediately bands together to punish the intruder? Happens all the time except in fanatical societies where the young are sacrificed at the alter of shame, death, or banishment for being victimized by an outsider. (Certain sects of Islam and Judaism, our biblical siblings, practise this horrific crime.)

The only answer to virulent tribalism is to understand deeply that everyone is a human being with a desire to be happy and live in peace. Within each person, that sweet spot could be brought to the fore under the leadership of wise ones with skilled methods of mediation, penetrating discourse, and an action plan to cement mutual empathy for "the other."

It's been done all over the world with enough succes to hope that were this a policy in place, and enforced on a regular basis (especially with the young), we might emerge from a Darwinian struggle into a world of unity and harmony.

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