Monday, December 3, 2012

Space Invaders: Or What Tribes Do You Belong To?

Recently I've been thinking about how many "tribes" I belong to. Tribes as in discreet associations with others whom I share a common interest or identity with. And as I thought about it I began to realize that the tribal structure expands to, quite literally, the cosmic level, but also back down to the incredibly detailed level of very specific commonalities (or more accurately uncommonalities). In other words, how do we identify ourselves? For instance, I'm a Christian, and an evangelical one at that. Though certainly not your typical one if you ask my closer friends. So that's ONE tribe I associate with. But I'm also Christian in the larger sense, so I would associate myself with other Christians of the great traditions which are historically considered to be Christian, such as Catholics, the Eastern Orthodox, and Protestants. So in one sense, while I align with a particular subset withing a tribe, I still associate myself with a larger tribe which encompasses the smaller tribe. Let's consider other tribes I belong to by default. For instance, I'm a white heterosexual male, distinct tribes in their own right, each with their own assumptions and privileges which go with their identities. I'm also a human, one species among millions of others on this little planet we call home. But have any of you watched a good science fiction movie with invading space aliens? What tribe do you suddenly find yourself to be a part? You suddenly see yourself as being an "earthling" over and against "those outsiders" invading "our" space. Sounds eerily familiar, doesn't it? So being an earthling is the definition in this case. But what if even that's not adequate? Try being a carbon based life form. At this point we start to (or already have traveled down the long road) lose what "tribe" even means. And yet we can't help but be tribal. I love my team. And because of that I hate your team. When I see a game turn out "wrong" I have a visceral reaction. My pulse races, my instincts kick in. And there's a reason for that. Are you in any way different than me? Can I accept that?

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