I recently stumbled onto this quote by the great C.S. Lewis, who, in his own way, is describing precisely what I believe to be true about life, and what I believe to be true about Tribalism:
I think each village was meant to feel pity for its own sick and poor whom it can help and I doubt if it is the duty of any private person to fix his mind on ills which he cannot help. This may even become an escape from the works of charity we really can do to those we know. God may call any one of us to respond to some far away problem or support those who have been so called. But we are finite and he will not call us everywhere or to support every worthy cause. And real needs are not far from us. – C. S. Lewis
We simply do not have the capacity to carry the burdens of the masses. Only Christ is capable of such a feat. We can however, share the burdens of life with the people we associate with. I refer to those people as my tribe. I am a member of quite a few tribes, as are you. And it is for the people of those tribes that I set my affection, that I offer my care and protection. And in some of those tribes, I have assumed a leadership role and offer the service of arbitrating disputes. This is simply how life works, whether it has been articulated to you in so many words or not.
Take a step back and look at the current country to which I reside. The fact that money is being taken out of my check by force in order to provide WIC vouchers for a family in Miami is absurd. Now, please do not misunderstand my point. I am 100% in favor of the family in Miami being provided for. But the question becomes obvious: Who should cut the check? I propose that it is the fundamental burden of the local church to provide for families in need as well as the tribe(s) for which our hypothetical Miami family belongs.
The local church is designed to be tribal, with an acute pulse on the condition of the community. And one of the primary reasons for the church’s decline in effectiveness is that she has relinquished her God-given responsibilities to the non-tribal, top-down bureaucrats. It is not their job, nor should it be, nor can it be. In God’s economy, the church is responsible for organizing and modeling tribal benevolence.
Someone is dying of AIDS right now in Santa Monica, CA. Let’s be honest, you don’t care. And if C.S. Lewis is correct, I am not sure that you should. But my guess is that if someone in your tribe was dying of cancer you would be moved to come to his or her aid with all available means. That is tribalism, and it is beautiful. And the funny thing is, you are already doing it.