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SIX WORD » QUESTIONS

One tribe. Many tribes. One tribe?

by Staraj on November 14, 2012   |  FacebooktwitterTumblr


Science says humankind's start-up occurred in what is now east Africa. Good climate. Plenty of low hanging fruit. After a million years or so (but really, who was counting?), we decided to outsource ourselves. To spread far and wide. In so doing, we diversified. Changed one brand into many. Later, when language had far surpassed grunts, the term "race" was deemed an appropriate descriptor for large groups of us.

Merriam-Webster – race: "a category of humankind that shares certain distinctive physical traits"

A rather meaningless definition, isn't it? And ethnicity fares no better – "of or relating to large groups of people classed according to common racial, national, tribal, religious, linguistic, or cultural origin or background"

Well, at least "tribal" is in that mix. And that's what we all are – a mix. The proof is "born out" if a seven-foot, fair-skinned, male Swede with straight blonde hair copulates (consensually, I hasten to add) with a four-foot, dark-skinned female pygmy from Namibia with black, tightly curled, short-cropped hair. Their child will share genes from both. And, most important, will be fertile and capable of reproduction. Reproduction leading to fertile offspring. That's how biologists define a species – not a race.

Our respective "racial pride" notwithstanding, we are, in fact, one species – with a lot of breeds. Similar in this regard to the dogs and cats we breed into curious shapes, sizes, and colors. (I'm not wise enough to say this practice is good or bad. Though I wonder how dogs and cats feel about the extremes that cause some of them to suffer with physiological problems.)

Breeds led us to form tribes long ago. And to this day, tribalism – not racism – is our greatest challenge. (Perhaps only rivaled by global warming.) However, the term breeds has some rhyming cousins, who also help form tribes. Creeds and deeds.

From the beginning, we decided that the more someone believed like us, the more that someone could be trusted. And the more someone acted like us – or acted as we WISHED we could act (leaders) – the more that someone could be trusted. Tribalism kept us alive. Hanging together. Based on breeds. Based on creeds. Based on deeds.

Truth to heed and help us understand ourselves . . . not secede, but SUCCEED . . . beyond tribalism . . . beyond nationalism . . . to one people.

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