The Human Tribe

Much has been said about tribal communities, as in Afghanistan, and democracies and dictatorships, but I wonder if they’re not all actually different forms of tribal society. The sophistication and scale may vary, particularly in larger countries – even as big as the USA – but isn’t it just another take on tribalism? In fact, isn’t it the case that humans are simply mostly tribal animals and you probably can’t change that?

OK, let’s start with what is the definition of a tribe. Well there are a number of differing versions, but they amount to alternative means of defining a particular tribe. So, the general description? “A group of people who have something in common such as an occupation, social background, or political viewpoint.” I’d have thought that describes just about everyone, with the possible exception of the odd loner.

One of the ways a tribe defines itself is, of course, by ethnic or ancestral origin – remotely genetically connected, but not actually family, although even a family can itself often be a sort of tribe. In reality, though, it can be anything from a close-knit family to a gang, to a society, to a village, or town, or state, to a political group, to a country or even a continent. In truth, we seem to create tribes because we have a need to belong, to fit in, to be part of a group. That’s probably because, much as we love to boast about our individuality, there is safety in numbers and most of us feel vulnerable when isolated. However, I did include countries in that list and a country, particularly a big, federal country like America is a tribe that is itself made up of many smaller tribes at various levels and most individuals will belong to several.

I guess I’m looking forward to the day the aliens finally land. Then perhaps we’ll at last begin to look at humanity as a single global tribe, because that would surely be how they would see us – friendly or not!

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8 Responses to “The Human Tribe”

  1. You make me think. I like that about you.

  2. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. I agree totally. I’ve articulated this countless times. You are ‘correcto mundo’…..it’s something the people in my tribe say when they’re being silly.

  3. This is a great post. I’ve spoken about this with people in the past who I consider my tribe (similar views, beliefs and interests) but you are right the human race is indeed the ultimate tribe.

    • Thanks. When, oh when, though, will a few more people realise that our similarities are greater than our differences, eh?

  4. I think it’s possible to belong to many tribes, or subsets of tribes. But you’re right, ultimately we are the human tribe…

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