Tribe. n. a group of persons having a common character, occupation, or interest
“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Romans 12:18 ESV
I recently enjoyed the company of a three year old for a few days—the daughter of good friends. She lives in another town, one quite a bit different from mine, so our time together was a vacation from her routine in every way. The schedule was relaxed, and the activities were exciting. It was easy to see she had mixed emotions as the visit drew to a close: She didn’t want it to end—she was having buckets of fun—but she missed her family, too. As it happened, there was a family dinner the night of her return home. At one point in the evening, I noticed her at the other end of the table, nestled among cousins, aunts and uncles, mom and dad, grandparents and great-grandparents, a big shining smile on her face. She looked so very contented to be with her people again, to be among those with whom she shares life day to day and week to week. She’s back with her tribe, I thought.
I Googled “Tribe” and found everything from “7 tips to finding your tribe” to “The 3-step plan to find your tribe” to “Your vibe attracts your tribe.” That last one’s especially catchy, don’t you think? These weren’t new websites, either. Apparently, we’ve been talking tribal for years. I hear the term used a lot among writers, as in, “Find your tribe!”
Okay. Sure. That sounds good.
Our infatuation with the term “diversity” notwithstanding, we humans are tribal. “Birds of a feather flock together,” we’ve said for as long as there have been words and birds. As surely as the moon pulls the tides, we’re pulled toward like-minded people. We don’t have to work at it, even if we’re only three years old. And guess what. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s okay to want to be with people who value what we value, who see the world as we see it, who think the way we we think. People who, if we can’t finish their sentences, at least we comprehend them. In fact, I think it’s healthy to acknowledge that we, as humans, need our tribes. We just don’t need them to the exclusion of everyone else.
I once knew a man, years in the grave now, who was born and raised on a farm. He never traveled beyond fifty miles or so from the house where he was born, the house in which he lived until he was an old man. He never knew anyone outside his family and neighbors, not really. He could read and write, but he did not read or write. He was the most opinionated person I’ve ever met, and he never saw a reason to entertain opinions that were different from his. Folks with highfalutin ideas were just plain stupid. My old acquaintance seems awfully dull and provincial to us more sophisticated types, but I’m not convinced he was all that different from us. I think maybe he just didn’t know how to put enough spit and shine on his narrow-mindedness to make it look like something else.
We are more alike than different, and we’re most alike in our bonds with our peeps. It’s a generous play to give people who are outside our tribe the liberty to be different, without judging them. But it seems like the right play. In fact, it’s probably the only play that has a future for every tribe and tongue.
Well, there’s a rose in a fisted glove,
And the eagle flies with the dove,
And if you can’t be with the one you love, honey,
Love the one you’re with.