Stop Choosing Imaginary Sides

Like it or not, there is only one tribe and we’re all in it

I love blaming others. It’s kind of a hobby. And I can see that I’m not alone in this.

If I bang my head on a cabinet door, it’s because some asshat left it open, even when I’m alone in the house. Someone else unwittingly makes the perfect fall guy for my frustrations.

Meanwhile, the famous first chapter of every conqueror’s handbook is to divide. Frighteningly, there are a lot of would-be conquerors around today eagerly exploiting our common reflex to blame others. Stirring up division is easy, and it’s the perfect smokescreen for rampant self-serving. This is both obvious to almost everyone and altogether too easy to forget when we’re upset and served up a fully endorsed “someone to blame.”

But here’s the rub. Or as I like to call it, the good news. Even people we disagree with are still our allies. Everything humans have comes directly from cooperation, not in-fighting. Like it or not, we depend on everyone else everywhere doing their job, whether or not we agree with them.

Nevertheless, conquerors insist that there are dangerous, disparate tribes out there to blame and defeat. But the reality is that there is only one tribe now. Bound tightly by global trade and in full sight and range of each other, humans will not allow an unfair world to persist without conflict. Boats must rise and fall together. Or else.

Conflict in today’s nuke-packed, tech-weapon-crazed world promises to be cataclysmic. Sinking boats will blow holes into the rising ones until we’re all crushed by the full weight of the sea. Like it or not, we are bound as one.

We can choose sides, arm up, and accept the swelling danger until it’s too late, or we can return to getting along as humans have done for tens of thousands of years. It’s up to us.

We evolved to connect. And even though we’re a long way from the caves, we are still wired to care about each other. As soon as we stop listening to the inciting, self-serving rhetoric of division, we naturally know how to get along.

Because we’re all on the same team, it’s in every person’s best interest for everyone else to be at the top of their game. There can be no tearing down of others. Not even during elections.

We can all feel the fractures of division and discontent crumbling the substrate beneath our feet. Unfathomably, both sides feel and fear this same thing. The only difference is who we blame. This makes a lot of sense when I tune into the highly targeted, super-computer-directed campaigns of fear and blame on both “sides” designed for nefarious purposes, including clicks and ratings.

But these are our neighbors we’re supposed to despise. The same neighbors we depend on to manufacture tires and change a flat. The very same neighbors with whom we share a powerful desire to keep our society together.

The way to keep it together, unsurprisingly, is by working together. We can not tolerate anyone who stirs derision. They are throwing everyone else under the bus in the mistaken notion that they are helping themselves. However, if they succeed in turning us against each other, it will be terrible for them too.

All people deserve respect, consideration, and awe. Even those who erroneously blame others are still people, however confused they are. We’re all doing the best we can in what is, for even the luckiest among us, difficult circumstances. We’re all amazing. And ultimately MUCH more similar than different.

We’re rightly disgusted and mad at the state of the world. It’s disgusting and infuriating. We badly need systemic adaptations to meet the challenges of our complicated, modern, single-tribe world. But to do that, we must first stop naively blaming each other.

It is upon all of us to make sure our teammates have what they need so they can make their best contribution. Most critically, we need to think very carefully about the rhetoric of conflict and cooperation. Anyone not strongly trumpeting cooperation and trust is not to be followed. Period. Anyone trying to stir you up is not on your side.

Our votes, clicks, and support matter. I understand wanting to blame the asshat who left the cabinet door open, even if they don’t exist. But mindlessly blaming others runs opposite to our evolutionary superpower. And it could all too easily undo us forever.

Mutual concern based upon mutual dependence is the cornerstone of our species. If we recognize this in time, we stand every chance of going tens of thousands of years more. If we don’t, we’ll be lucky to make it another hundred.

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