Letter: We’ll likely always have tribal bent in our nature


Having been characterized as a lurking xenophobe by Sadie Strain in her Dec. 12 letter to the editor, “Why do so many hold dangerous stereotypes?” I guess I should respond by noting that she is, at least partially, correct.

We all are xenophobic. It may go under descriptive titles like patriotism, tribalism, gender, immaturity, or even geriatrics, and be characterized by region, religion, race, tribe, language, physical characteristics such as Mongolism, skin color, or eyes that are big, wide apart, narrow, brown, blue, black or green. It comes from being born in a world that, by nature, is competitive.

We find ourselves competing for every need that living imposes. Science calls it the “food chain.” We often think of it as the “eat-or-be-eaten syndrome.”

It is survival instinct that makes us more than just a pile of chemicals that accidentally evolved into “creaturehood” or humanity.

We “care” about ourselves, those who support us, and to varying extents, everyone else. Sometimes we call it “empathy.”

We seek affiliations with like-minded people whom we view as being mutually supportive. Appearance similarities are usually clues in identifying supportive “like mindedness.”

Identity is so crucial to survival that adults adopted at birth usually seek to know their genetic parentage for a plethora of reasons.

Most of us are born into caring families which, in turn, merge further into mutual assistance affiliations like religious sects, schools, communities, clubs, “gangs,” trade unions, on up to states, races and nationalities.

Even minority groups that complain about competitive disadvantage cling to their identity with every bit as much tenacity as do majority groups.

So we’re all guilty, which suggests that, as long as life on this planet remains competitive, we will always have a tribal bent in our basic nature. Will humanity ever rise above our basic survival instincts?

If the principles of zero population growth continue to be ignored, I don’t think it likely.

Chew on that one for a while. Maybe someone has a better answer to Sadie Strain’s question.

Al Williams

Oak Harbor

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