We humans are tribal creatures. We have to have an ‘in’ group and an ‘out’ group… you know, the ‘others’, the threats to our security and resources.
But who we include in our tribe is up to us.
If we want to be narcissistic and sociopathic we can follow Donald Trump’s model: the tribe of one. He is his own ‘in’ group, and everyone else is there to either serve or threaten him.
We can expand our tribe from there and include our immediate family. We can hunker down in our ‘bubble’ like the survivalists and doomsday preppers do.
Or we can expand to our local community. If we want to be racist, of course, we can limit our tribe to those whose skin colour matches our own. If we want to be sexist, we can limit our tribe to those who happen to have the same genitalia as us.
We can be nationalistic and jingoistic if we expand our tribe to only include those who fall within the arbitrary lines drawn on maps that we call ‘borders’. (If you want a lesson in borders and tribes, learn about how the continent of Africa was divided up in 1885).
The size of, and criteria for inclusion in our tribes are boundless.
Of course, if you want to live simply and compassionately, you could consider expanding your tribe to include all people on Earth.
Sure, there’s conflict. Sure, nothing is easy. But we are all flying through space on a big rock together and nobody really knows what’s going on.
(It’s worth noting that ‘conflict’ doesn’t mean someone isn’t in your tribe… the strongest tribes allow conflicts to arise and manage them gracefully).
And what about expanding again… to all life on Earth? All animals, human or non-human. Plants. Trees. Ecosystems?
There is no right or wrong. You are entitled to pick any tribe you wish to. It’s the awareness of your choices that makes the difference.
So just ask yourself: which tribe have you chosen?