Alexandre Dumas, in one of the grandest sweeping romance novels of all time, created the phrase “one for all and all for one.” The phrase referred to the combined friendship and focused attitudes of four individuals thrown together by the fates who had become dependent upon one another for comfort and survival when facing a harsh world all around them. Tom Paine, was an intellectual who circulated handouts, not unlike the very newspaper you are reading right now (The Geneva Shore Report), but he did that back in 1776, at a time he thought to be pivotal in the country’s creation and development. He coined the expression ‘these are the times that try men’s souls.’ He was referring with anger to the ‘summer soldiers’ of that day and age. Men would come from all over the country to fight for the summer and then desert and go home when it got cold. Tom thought that was pretty lousy, as did General Washington and a few more of the fledgling country’s leaders. In reality, the men heading home were doing so not necessarily for comfort but almost certainly to take care of family and friends who would badly need them to make it through a tough winter.
They went home because of tribalism. Tribal structure among humans developed hundreds of thousands of years ago. It is the single most powerful source of motive and pervasive power on this planet. Human tribal power has created, built and sustained the species’ take over and control of the entire planet. There are no real competitors left. The result of today’s electronically powered communications has, however, become the greatest danger to humanity because it runs totally against the concept of small organized tribal behavior. Studies have been endlessly performed in all manner of social disciplines that conclude that nuclear families are on the wane. Tribal organizations like the Elks, Free Masons, the American Legion and even such beneficent groups like the Lions, the Rotary and the Jaycees, are all on their way out. The electronic media is causing humanity to reform itself into much larger groups, and inside such groups, individual orientation, understanding, and motivation are being lost. Instead, individual participation is now understood to be essential to human psychological survival. Societies act as groups, and sociology was invented as a social science to predict and describe group behavior. It was a remarkably successful social science until it was all but done away with when politicians saw the danger of such truthful prediction (note that real empirical surveys are gone, along with post voter polls and vetted results of social studies of any kind).
No successful results have ever truly been made about the predictability of individual human behavior across any wide spectrum of events. Humanity’s strength is in its adaptability, not in its predictability. But at the core, the foundation of a human’s wants and needs has to be the tribe. Early social orders understood this. Back in those early days, the worst punishment that could be meted out on a tribal member was not execution or a life of incarceration. It was banishment from the tribe. That was a fate considered worse than death, although in most ways it was the same thing over time. Today, it still is, although it is much more disguised and unacknowledged. Many of the serial murderers of the modern era are those who have been quietly, secretly and certainly banished from the social order, so they turn around and attack.
Given the fact that we must all be part of a tribe to experience any bliss in life, be it called family or by other names, then it behooves us all, during these times when the effects of this monstrous application of overwhelming electronic media comes down, we must form, join and be a part of a tribe. To do that we must give until it hurts to qualify. We must work endlessly to support that structure and those in it. We must live in expectation that that tribe will be there for us in our times of need, as well. The tribe is much more about giving and receiving than it is about cooperative identity. Join a tribe. Make a tribe. Live in a tribe, because you cannot survive in a world where you believe that your identity is formed, and your survival assured by Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Our way in life is in, and through other human beings, which means we must be willing to demonstrate acceptance, tolerance, and love, and do so in truly close and tactile ways. In giving there is growing. In showing weakness there is strength. I did not say that.
The New Testament does.