We may have abandoned our clubs and spears from civilized life millennia ago, but tribalism still remains an intrinsic part of human nature.
Humans are social creatures who naturally congregate into tribes based on shared characteristics. Any system of ethics that does not acknowledge this is flawed.
Tribalism is responsible for some of the best and worst actions of humanity. The same thing that motivates us to embark on humanitarian endeavors also motivates us to commit atrocities, like genocide.
An important aspect of tribalism is that people are naturally defensive of their tribe and antagonistic towards others. We commonly refer to this favoritism as “bias.”
An easy way to determine your tribal affiliation is to figure out which tribes you enjoy criticizing (and vice versa). It is not fun to criticize your own tribe, even if the criticism is warranted. Likewise, it is fun to criticize rival tribes, even if the criticism is unfair.
In this case, tribes can include: families, political parties, religions, cultures, races, genders, or even people who listen to a certain type of music.
Tribalism is prominent in political and religious debates. When people debate politics and religion, oftentimes it is just as much about defending the honor of their tribe as it is about defending their beliefs.
Tribalism clouds our judgment and causes us to say and do many irrational things that go against our morals.
With all of the problems caused by tribalism, it may seem like a good idea to abandon it all together. This is the solution that is promoted by modern day liberals.
Liberals want to water down tribal differences to the point where we are all operating as one unified tribe with the same system of ethics. Ironically, this in itself is a form of tribalism.
The problem with this solution is that it ignores the fact that people are naturally hardwired to be tribal. It is essentially saying the solution to the problem is that the problem should not exist in the first place.
If we stopped being tribal, then we would no longer be human and it would be a completely different world with its own set of problems.
An alternative solution is that we should learn to tolerate other tribes, even if some of their behaviors offend us. Christians have been advocating this solution for 2,000 years. The problem is that it is easier said than done, as tolerance goes against human nature.
That is not to say the situation is hopeless, as many people become tolerant, especially as they get older. Just understand that it is difficult to maintain this state of mind.
Personally, I think tolerance is the best solution for dealing with our tribal differences. However, I understand that this also lends itself to abuse, as there are some behaviors that should not be tolerated.
Either way, we need to acknowledge that tribalism is an intrinsic part of human nature, and as such a certain degree of human conflict is inevitable.