Are We Tribal Enough?

Listening to the radio as I drove between jobs today, I heard a guest expert refer to our current national political environment as “tribal”. Although I identified with his general sentiment, the use of this particular word struck me as odd. The implication is that “tribal” is a negative adjective — divisive, hostile, combative, selfish.

Having spent substantial time in Liberia, building personal relationships with people in the village near our school, I’ve acquired a different perspective on the meaning of “tribal”. The community I’ve witnessed shares a common tribal bond that embodies positive traits like cooperation, compromise, sharing, and interdependence. Though there are always underlying individual needs and family-specific objectives, all members appear to be willing to sacrifice for the greater good of this community.

Perhaps we’re not tribal enough. Pray that we learn how to incorporate more of these qualities into the “tribes” of our lives.

3 thoughts on “Are We Tribal Enough?

  1. When I was a kid growing up with 6 brothers and sisters, we were sometimes described as a “tribe”. I always felt as though this was a positive description and it made me feel secure and part of something bigger than myself. I’m happy to start using the expression in more positive terms!


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