07 January 2013

Facebook Experience -- Tribalism Lives!

One of our problems, not merely as Americans, but I think as a species, is that we are tribal critters. In our age, our tribalism is often manifested by identification with an ideology. Being a liberal, progressive, or conservative has for many people replaced membership in a particular nationality or tribe.

This came up in my mind last night. On Facebook, I "shared" a "photoshopped" picture which took a rather sharply cynical view of the use of the word, "rape" by some Republican politicians. It was a bit slashing, but to my mind illustrated where nominating people like former (thank you Jesus!) Congressman Adkins, Congresswoman Bachmann, and Congressman Ryan leads perception.

About 45 seconds later my pc started chirping as the messages began to pour in. I had it seems made fun of the tribe. Within a few minutes, the attacks where coming in, claiming that the writers were victims of my unfair attack. I had attacked the tribe, and as tribes do, it reacted. 16 hours later, the response continues. On the plus side this is pruning my Facebook friends list.

In a real sense, ideology seems to be our new tribe. Those of us who simply refuse to sign up for one are targets for both sides. I get verbal assaults when I disagree with some received liberal wisdom too. "My ideology, write or wrong" has replaced, "My country right or wrong" as a slogan without a thought.

It is sort of scary because the same impulse towards mindless if verbal violence is a step along the road to the cult. One follows the leader because he is, even if that leader is a dishonest disciple of Ayn Rand. That way lies Jonestown.

The great achievement of the West has been calling mankind to rise above tribalism. Wanting to take us back to the tribes is not patriotism, not conservative, not Republican. It is unthinking flight from freedom. We need to start requiring that people read Eric Fromm.

Jesus called us to grow beyond tribalism quoting Isaiah, "My house shall be a house of prayer for all people." Paul called on the Jewish Christians to expand their world view to include Gentiles. Jesus said that ritual purity was not God's standard. The Republicans of today, as they have abandoned Goldwater, Eisenhower, and Lincoln, have gone exactly the other way. It is sad, tribal and eventually will cost them the country.

That is what is defended by the knee-jerk, "do not attack my tribe" approach. In our day this means claiming to be the victim. Ah well, as Jesus observed, they have their reward. With apologies to St. Thomas Moore, "It profits a party nothing if he give up its soul and gain the whole world. But for the House?"

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