Turbulent Tribalism

Steven Bishop (12th), Editor

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I want you to stop and think when the last time a serious conversation you had was civil. The easiest way to determine this is if you didn’t have the immediate need to rip your converses head off as soon as the two of you were finished with the discussion.

How tribal was the debate – or argument I should say? It certainly couldn’t have been pleasant, conversations rarely are these days.

It’s a strange reaction to become overly defensive about beliefs. We hear and read stories of defense becoming uncivil when material wealth is involved but nearly zero mention of its mental parallel.

The big question is whether becoming defensive and entrenched is healthy or not when it comes to personal beliefs.

For such a big quandary, the answer is simply no. No, for the very reason that too much emphasis in a belief is placed on the fact that the belief is inherently correct.

You can never be in the right if you never consider that you can be in the wrong.

How important is being told you are correct? Is it worth being overly aggressive for zero personal gain? Is it worth the backlash and instability it causes?

Again, the answer is no. Most of the time in a discussion or debate the most civil thing to do is consider that everyone engaged is both right and wrong. There has never – and will never – be a side in a formal debate that will be considered entirely correct or entirely false.

Therefore, we need to stop treating our very own words as divine truth and universal law. It gets us nowhere. It’s like like standing on the beach while a wave washes by, you feel like your’re getting somewhere but you’ve stayed buried in the same place the whole time.

Now that we have addressed the problem, what of a solution? The best course of action would be to listen more and speak less. More time spent listening will increase the level of understanding and respect required to have worthwhile discourse.

Next, treat the person in front of you as an equal and not as a demon specifically sent to terrorize you. Stay calm and level and there will be no opportunity for superiority to creep into the debate.

I dare you now to go out and try to be more civil and less tribal. There can still be camps of opinions but they would do no good if they can’t address the presence of another.

Go out and be civil. Tribalism isn’t worth the energy of time.

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