A Tribe of One, A Tribe of Many
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my life specifically, and life in general in the context of the current social dialogue about identity, community and tribalism. I have a thought or two I thought I would share. This is just one persons (developing) opinion.
I can only think of 3 tribes that matter.
The most important tribe is a tribe of one. It is yourself. First and foremost you must answer to, be motivated by, and be responsible for yourself. You control your thoughts, emotions, beliefs and direction of your life. If you don’t accept this tribe of one first, you will never find satisfaction, success, contentment or happiness. You will also never be able to maximize your contribution to those around you. Be careful not to misunderstand what I’m saying here. This isn’t about you in comparison to others. This is about you in comparison to the you you can be. Some may include in this a personal devotion to deity, or creed, or belief system. It does not matter beyond the idea that you’re ultimately responsible for the development of, and only limited by, you. Society, individuals and even history may have created barriers for you. Those barriers will be different for everyone. But history is the story of individuals demolishing their barriers and refusing to be defined by other people or the perception of their limitations. It is rife with stories of people finding their own potential and reaching it.
The second most important tribe is your family. Those immediately surrounding you. If you’re married or in a committed relationship, your fist priority outside of yourself is this tribe of two. You must be committed to the success of that union. You must be as honest as you are devoted. You must make two be one. Never lie to, deceive, diminish, suppress, put down or think less of them. This tribe of two is only as strong as your commitment to build, support, champion and cheer the other person. The only soul mates in life are the ones you develop through constant effort and devotion. If the pair of you have children, they must feel encircled in this tribe. Devote yourself to their success. Provide opportunity, teach true principles of kindness, hard work, personal responsibility and devotion to the tribe!
The third tribe in importance is the tribe of the family of God. You may call it something different based on your own beliefs. Maybe it’s the family of Allah, Adam or the human family. For me, I believe that we are all children of God and therefore of one family. But it does not matter your belief structure, you are part of a great whole. A body of people. There will always be disagreements, and difficulty within the body of this tribe, but a realization that you belong to this fragile thing called humanity can direct your actions towards others. Expressing your belonging in this tribe can have as many varieties as there are members. Maybe you decide to associate with a church, a sports team, a company, or even a political party. But, in my opinion, it is critical that we do not visualize, or formalize tribes outside the great whole. Our associations with others through organizations are merely the context in which we, as individuals with limited time, reach and resources express our devotion to humanity.
Please notice, none of these tribes have the goal or are built with the intention of promoting one person or group of people over another. It is about making each tribe the best it can be in comparison, not to others but, to it’s own potential. I am more and more convinced that the creation of, or identifying with, a tribe that is based on the promotion of some over others is the root source of unhappiness, dissatisfaction, despair, depression and eventually violence.