Tribalism is Natural
This post appeared years back in two places which are now no longer accessible.
13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
-- 1 Corinthians 2:13-14 (KJV)
A little secret: I had to do community service for a misdemeanor.
My crime: carrying a loaded weapon in public. (Hey, it’s California.) I plead guilty and, because it was a first offense, I received community service. Some might remember that I fractured my left wrist back in 2012. I had been doing community service when it happened.
During my service – CALTRANs — most of the other offenders were black and Latino. They were there for things like major traffic violations which did not result in injury or accident – mostly first-time DUIs. All were much younger than I and I had little in common with most of them as far as our personal interests went.
However, one politically astute guy was there for fixing cars without a business license; his “crime” had caused him to awaken, he freely admitted. Still another guy – whose offense I don’t recall - and I discussed current events and religion a few times. Both men were very intelligent.
One day, as we performed our usual task, cleaning up the freeways, three groups formed: a black one, a Latino one, and a very small group who refused to go there. I was a part of the last group.
I walked up to the last guy I mentioned — part of the black group – and said, “What are we doing? Forming up according to race now? This isn’t prison.”
“It’s natural to do this,” he said.
“It’s also natural to urinate and defecate where you stand, but our parents train us out of that.”
He said nothing in response. However, he separated from the black group and started working by himself.
I tell this story to point to the implications behind “natural behavior”: that it’s perceived as good and right. The Bible, of course, tells us otherwise for the most part. The natural man has no knowledge of God and feels more kinship with other human beings who look like him – starting with his immediate family and branching out to his ethnic tribe. And it doesn’t end there.
It’s natural. It’s also deadly to truth. And, we will never completely get rid of ethnic tribalism through our own efforts even as we watch it crest once again in our “modern” era. However, those of us who think we are more enlightened and don’t see race should not think of ourselves as better than our carcass-worshiping acquaintances. Often, we create our own tribalism and it behooves us all to be wary of it.
Because when we lie to ourselves for too long, those lies begin to look just like the truth.
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