Why We Need Tribes….

This story is indicative of the kinds of problems created by a top-down society.  This situation should have NEVER gone beyond the effective family members/tribe members.

How many stories are out there that we just don’t know about?  If there is even 1 more, than it is too many.

10 thoughts on “Why We Need Tribes….

  1. How many times have we read stories of “tribes” covering up injustices among their own, or handing out their own form of justice beyond what is sane? When you get anyone in any position of power, there is a chance of that power being abused, however large or small the position is.

    I agree, this story is heart-wrenching, and speaks to the dissociation of government agencies from the people they are supposed to support, protect and/or represent, and I also agree that one more case is already two too many, but I don’t think the answer is necessarily to revert to tribal-style governance, either.

    There are deep problems in both kinds of oversight. One too far removed to give individual attention, and one too closely entwined to be objective. There must be a middle ground, but I fear people will always either find a way to abuse a system or fall through its cracks.

    1. You certainly bring up a valid concern regarding tribalism and how they may in fact handle ‘injustices’ etc. by covering them up or handing out their own form of justice. But injustice is a concern regardless of government style. The difference of course is in scope. Tribalism will inherently limit the scope of potential injustice, where top-down governments, the likes we see in D.C. promote injustice without recourse and have massive implications. As long as bad people live, injustice will be an issue, as NO government can eradicate injustice. Thus the best we can do is keep it minimal in scope and isolated.

      I am far more comfortable with tribes handling their own issues for a couple of other reasons. The first is economically it makes more sense and to be honest is even more ‘just’. Why does the government take money from me to punish a bad person in, say, New Mexico? I have no tribe members in New Mexico. That is not ‘justice’ to make me pay for what inherently is another tribe’s issue. By keeping it at the tribal level, then the effected tribe can handle it as they see fit without forcing another tribe to bear the cost. The second reason is expediency. When I hit my brother growing up, my Dad dealt with it. Did he cover it up? Sometimes. Did he handle as he saw best for the tribe? Always. Do you really need to know how and why I hit my brother and subsequently how my tribal leader punished me? Quite honestly, that is none of your business. Nor is it mine if you hit your brother, or even if worse happened.

      Do tribes get too carried away? Sure. I don’t really like the fact that Jehovah’s Witnesses will forbid a blood transfusion for a member that is desperately in need of help. I believe that the leaders of that religious group are acting unjustly. But if their members don’t mind, why the heck should I? They are free to leave the tribe. I don’t like Sharia Law among the Muslims. But who am I to approach their tribe and fix it legislatively?

      I am a Christian, and in my mind the only way to stomp out injustice, whether it be Sharia Law or Murder etc ad nauseum, is by changing the person. According to the Christian worldview, the only way to change the person is through the life-changing transformation of the Gospel. Not through top-down governments.

      1. “But if their members don’t mind, why the heck should I?”

        And you don’t see the tribe mentality being a hindrance here? If they’re part of a tribe that doesn’t allow dissent, then how can you just shrug and say if they don’t mind why should you? By advocating small-scale enforcement, you’re in effect silencing their ability to object. There are cases where there are no options, you don’t have the right to just leave if you don’t agree. For all the failings of ‘big government’ and bureaucracy I think the answer is fix the problems in them, not just get rid of them entirely.

        There were very obvious failings here, but leaving things on a community level can see the opposite tragedy, children left in abusive homes because no one wants to bring shame on the ‘tribe’ by admitting these things happen (the vast number of child abuse/molestation cases in recent decades should be enough to adequately illustrate).

        There does need to be a recourse in such cases, there *does* need to be more than just a knee-jerk reaction and accusation of abuse without any ability to seek justice when the charges are false, but tribe mentalities can be far more destructive.

      2. One of the obvious benefits of tribalism is that it is much easier to leave a tribe than it is to leave a country, especially one as large as the US. If they are part of a tribe that does not allow dissent, they can either leave or put up with the tyranny. How am I silencing their ability to object? That does not make any sense. Their tribal leader may in fact be silencing their ability to object, but advocating for ‘tribalism’ most certainly does not silence them, or anyone for that matter. I am trying to give more voices to more people to have more influence on the tribes that actually matter to each of us.

        Take this blog and conversation for instance. Like it or not, we are part of a tribe. We both blog on wordpress, we both love to share our thoughts and ideas, and you were especially kind enough to stop by my blog, read a post, and contribute to a conversation. Tribalism. If you hate me, then leave. If you enjoy the dialogue, then stay. I reserve the ability to block your comments, your reserve the ability to never visit the blog again. We engage in the exchange of ideas freely…and in that sense we are members of the declination/wordpress/blogosphere tribe. You are in dozens of tribes as we speak. But we don’t need the police or the federal government to step and and lay down the rules for this tribe. My guess is, if I were to become offensive to you, you would ‘take your ball and go home’. And I wouldn’t blame you, as I would do the same. I want to see this kind of exchanged carried out to as many applications as possible.

        Part of the problem that you bring up, is this: Your issues are very real and very meaningful, but they are issues nonetheless in a top-down society and thus it is difficult to imagine tribalism in this context. Consider the two issues you brought up: child abuse and molestation. Both are wicked and evil acts. What has the US government, or any government ever done to successfully stop either act? The police do not protect us, to simply provide an investigative service AFTER the abuse or molestation has taken place. In tribalism, I could see a few different solutions. If there was abuse in a tribe I was a part of, I would either ‘handle’ the matter tribally, or I would leave the tribe over their tolerance. If enough people leave the tribe, the leader will be become tribe-less. This is actually where the term, “You’re Fired!” comes from…if the tribe no longer wanted you to be a part of the community, they simply burned down your home…fired you.

        Can I fire the police department of my city? What if I don’t think that smoking a plant deserves 10 Years in prison? But you think tribalism is ‘far more destructive’? How many people are in prison today, for smoking a PLANT????? Families are torn apart, kids raised without fathers because some government official thought that marijuana possession required a 10 year mandatory sentence! That is abuse if I ever saw it. Police abuse runs rampant, because Lord Acton was correct, “Power corrupts, but absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

        There are only 2 kinds of stories: Human stories and Tribal stories. All other attempts to create a story are generally propagated by someone that wants power. Tribalism reduces the influence of a single individual and thus reduces the ability of the 1 to rule the many. That is the safest approach. Not perfect, but the safest.

      3. The internet is not the same at all. You have no physical, psychological, financial or social power over me. We are very much on equal footing.

        Children being abused are in the exact opposite position. They are at the mercy of systems that historically turn blind eyes to their abuse and shield their abusers from prosecution. I’ve seen what ‘tribal’ mentality does to children, and it is NOT to be desired.

        As I mentioned, the best solution would be to fix our system, not merely revert to one that was just as broken.

      4. Fair enough. I am not in a position to determine the extent of child abuse that you have seen so I will take your word for it. Of course, you have never really seen child abuse in a truly tribal system, only in a system that is contextualized by Police Departments and top-down lawmakers sitting in ivory towers. If a child abuser knew that I could and would come pull his heart out his chest if he hurt a child, and I had the blessing of the tribe to do so, my guess is he would think twice. But clearly you disagree.

        So, here is the 64 million dollar question…how do we fix our system? Can you provide me with a single instance where a centrally-planned society eradicated child abuse? Strike that, can you provide me with an example of a single centrally-planned society that worked at all? I have provided what I think are solutions to the problems we both recognize. You clearly do not like my solutions. What are your solutions? What can I do in the Midwest to stop child abuse in the Pacific Northwest? And what system would you be fixing? The state of Washington system or the DC system? The system created by the founders or the current system that pays ex-presidents 13 Million dollars to deliver speeches? Would freedom be the result of your fixed system or is there a better ‘value’ that you would be striving for? I have exposed myself with my ideas…what are yours?

      5. I think it’s rather narrow minded to think that the only abuse I’ve witnessed was in the US. There are plenty of tribal societies, or tribal social structures in place in the world that serve only to reinforce abusive power systems and crush dissent. Read up on some of the most rural areas in India sometime, and you might be surprised what ‘tribal’ systems can do to children.

        There does need to be changes to our system, but abolishing it can’t be the answer. That’s knee-jerk reaction and rarely addresses the actual problem. It’s like not liking the color of a house so you tear down the house.

        With solid cases like the one you mentioned, it can be possible to recognize the exact ways in which our system fails and address these cracks. Recognizing that there are cases in which apparent abuse is caused by other factors is an important distinction that should be taught to enforcement agencies, allowing the possibility of abuse-symptoms to be caused by things other than abuse can help alleviate the pain caused to families.

        Having training in such information both in the medical field but also in the enforcement field can help with this. Having avenues of recourse open to parents who find themselves in such situations – both to deny the allegations but also to find counseling and legal assistance – should be a critical key component of a system overhaul.

        What cannot be overlooked is that the system exists to protect children from abuse. Most abusers deny that their treatment is abuse, or deny the abuse even happened, so it isn’t enough to leave it on the honor system.

        The children abused in Penn State were subjected to that tribal mentality of their abuser being above reproach in the eyes of the community, the abused being forgotten victims until he was finally brought to justice. Justice by that government system you rail against.

        There is good and bad in every human system. The only thing we can do is find the best possible solution with the least possible negative outcomes. I think our current system, flawed as it is, is still better than the ‘tribal’ system you advocate. I think taking reasonable looks and having rational discussions about the failings of our system and finding ways to patch the holes without losing children in the cracks is the best way to approach the issue.

      6. Have you really reduced the problems facing our society down to the need for more training? And why is child abuse the only, albeit horrible, crime you seem interested in stopping? Tribalism, at its root, is designed to protect the tribe, which means to protect the children of that tribe. Otherwise the tribe will self-destruct.

        The Penn State situation is actually a great example of why we need tribalism, I am glad that you mentioned it. What decent human-being witnesses a grown-man sodomizing a boy and walks away? A coward, that’s who. A coward that was more comfortable working within the ‘system’ that provides him context for his every move. The police were on to Sandusky for 10 years and did NOTHING to protect the children or stop the abuse! For 10 YEARS!!!! McQueary could have stopped it all by walking into that shower and breaking Sandusky’s neck. But no, McQueary was raised in a spineless society where it would be better to tell the police, and then watch them do nothing. And once he told the police, there was nothing more that he could have done. In tribalism, if I walk into the shower and see a man raping a boy, the man will die or I will die trying to help the boy, but under no circumstances am I walking away to let the police handle it. The system protected Sandusky, the boy’s tribe should have protected the boys and made sure that monster was never near them again-or any boy for that matter.

        I am well aware of the evil that takes place in India, and in my own state. I don’t need to travel or read about abuse in another hemisphere to know what takes place there. The Gospel of Christ is needed in India, just like it is in my hometown. That is where change will start and take root. Where the Gospel has gone, the people, especially them women and children, have been given the most dignity and justice. This fact is clearly recognized and indisputable. Where the gospel has not gone, life is miserable for women and children. But the gospel has come to the US, now the question is how will the people in our country be most free to pursue justice and opportunities to better their lives?

      7. Okay, now you’re being ridiculous. Child abuse isn’t the only crime but it was the one we were talking about. I can’t possibly distill my thoughts on the entirety of our society down to a few lines in a journal comment, sorry.

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