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How large is your tribe?

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by hal » Mon Sep 26, 2016 7:39 am

According to anthropology, a tribe is a collection of clans, which are groups of related people. Within a clan can be found smaller groups of relatives which, depending on the degree of cultural sophistication, are called bands, or extended families. In modern Western terms, the extended family breaks down into families, of which there are many varieties.

All of us belong to families and extended families. We also belong to communities of many kinds: schools, churches, clubs, political parties, bowling leagues, and many others. “Community” implies a certain smallness, where most people know most others who belong to it. Probably 300 to 400 people is the upper size limit of a community in this sense. This can also be called a village. Beyond that, politically, there are towns, cities, states and countries. Parallel to these are local private bodies of all kinds, such as clubs and churches, which may be parts of national or even international organizations. All these are comprised of people, people related in many ways, people who are hurtful and helpful to one another.

Kindness lies at the root of helpfulness. No one can be helpful without being kind. And while kindness may not always be materially helpful, it always consoles or encourages the person to whom it is offered.

Then, to whom are we kind? It's easy to be kind to those we love, those closest to us, those in our literal or emotional families or communities. But what about those in groups farther removed from us, those in other clans and tribes? (I use this language deliberately.)

“Clan” members are mostly our more distant relatives, our extended families. A “tribe” for us today is any group of any size with which we strongly identify. It may be something like Toastmasters, the a sports team, a political party, or even the company we work for. It is a place where we belong. In the tribe, we are accepted, and to a tribe, we are loyal.

It's easy to be kind to someone in our tribe, but what about anybody else? Is that important? This question lies at the root of all morality, I believe. And I also believe that morality is at the root of politics. Politics is nothing more than the way we agree to get along as in tribes. This is as true now as it was in primitive societies.

So how can kindness possibly apply in politics? It is in the transition from one to many, from me to you, from us to others, to the family, to the clan, to the tribe, to the nation, to the world. The problem is where we stop: is it at the tribal limits?

Kindness is an aspect of charity, which is far more than giving stuff to those less fortunate. Charity is love. Is it possible to express love through kindness outside our tribe?

Let's look at those who take an opposite approach. Some would have it that government at all levels should be as lean as possible. People have the individual right to do what they like with their own property, and it is fundamentally unjust for the government to take it away from them, except under limited circumstances.

Those who think this way might concede that kindness is okay if extended to members of their immediate social group, or maybe a little farther. But I think this kind of person wouldn't really be much interested in this sort of discussion.
. . . all times I have enjoyed
Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone.
-- Tennyson
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by Mocha » Tue Sep 27, 2016 10:55 am

hal, I've read your post over and's very thought provoking and I loved it. Unfortunately my mind is too scattered to reply properly. Doesn't mean I haven't read it and appreciated your thoughts...... :)
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~Martin Luther King, Jr.~

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by Jaivi » Wed Oct 05, 2016 1:38 am

Love thy neighbor as thyself.

Who is thy neighbor?

Everyone you meet.


"aham brahmami"

aham: I am

brahmasmi Spirit-soul

We are all sparks of the Supreme Spirit. Treat everyone as such.
Enduring in the faith in my dreams and hopes: got to keep laughing :)
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by KittyFox » Wed Oct 05, 2016 8:25 pm

I'm Libertarian Party, to bring an identifying political factor into things. Which means I favor less government. However, I'm kind to everyone I meet, regardless of distance, ethnicity, religion, opinions, etc. I am only unkind to those that are aggressive with me, and by "unkind" I mean I am firm and defend myself. I do not insult or degrade, I do not devalue or argue.

That being said... it becomes hard to philosophize the "Tribe" idea when a heavy majority feel isolated and misunderstood, or feel as though a particular loose identifying term can somehow put an entire canyon between two people, two people that at the end of the day are both human. When it becomes rare to even agree that we are people and human, and all essentially want the same things, because of all these different details then it becomes near impossible to bring politics into the discussion. Politics are one of the most divisional topics amongst humans. We're already so divided, how could we possibly stand more division let alone intellectualize a Tribal concept?
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