Tribes

I read the other day that experts such as E. O. Wilson, a pre-eminent sociobiologist, believe tribalism may well lead to the downfall of humankind.
That is, the tribal impulse, hard-wired into the human psyche over the millennia, while providing a certain security and sense of well-being, creates at the same time animosities toward other tribal groups which all too often can develop into very dangerous situations.

Further, Dr. Wilson reports, tribal inclusion often requires adherence to certain dogmatic beliefs and doctrinal affiliations, sometimes secular but more often of a religious nature, that defy rationality making cooperation and mutual understanding between tribes very difficult.

These ideas got me thinking about the story by William Golding, Lord of the Flies, in which children, finding themselves alone on a deserted island, revert, in a sense, to the values and sensibilities of their pre-historic past when warrior groups ruled. They conjure demons and create enemies among themselves. Their insecurities and fear lead to a tribal mentality among many of the children. Only a few of them are able to fight the impulse to demonize and hate the other.

Well, it doesn’t require a whole lot of knowledge of current affairs to recognize similar mentalities throughout the world. All I can hope for is that a reasonable percentage of humankind fights its tribal impulse and realizes its deep interconnectedness with the world as a whole so that I can continue my contemplations in peace. I know this may sound selfish but I’d be a bit lonely without any human presence whatsoever.

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