The curse of being normal in a tribal nation
Living life as a good tribe member frequently means being a horrible person. I am a bad tribe member. I don’t keep the feasts and rites, or cite the creeds and oaths of my tribe.
I am an unabashed conservative, but I am not a good tribe member.
I drive a plug-in hybrid Kia and my family has owned Subarus for over a decade. Yes, we proudly drive the four-wheeled emblem of liberal America.
As a conservative, I favor small government, adherence to law, fiscal parsimony, American global moral, economic, and military leadership, and the sacredness of life. But I am also an advocate of civil rights, racial equality, and religious tolerance.
I also believe that the Bible is neutral on the government’s role in economics, and that socialism is a perfectly acceptable system for a Christian to support. I believe that capitalism is the most efficient economic method to distribute labor, goods, and services. Except efficiency isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. A dictatorship is a really efficient method of government, but nobody except the dictator really wants it.
I don’t believe capitalism always leads to altruistic outcomes. In fact, left to its own designs, capitalism leads to horrific abuses.
The conservative tribe requires me to be fully invested in unrestricted capitalism, to fully oppose socialism, not to wear, drive, or otherwise support the emblems of the left, and to be a good Republican and vote for candidates who can win. I vote for whoever I want. That’s liberty.
I am a bad tribe member. I don’t keep the feasts and rites, or cite the creeds and oaths of my tribe.
I believe most people are like me, whether their politics are right or left. Now we’ve been forced to select a side and therefore reject anyone not on “our” side. In government in the progressive Democrat-controlled states, there are people in power who believe that Christians must be taught a lesson for adherence to Biblical values—we must “bake the cake.” Republicans tend to focus far too much on our LGBT brothers and sisters (a good liberal tribe member can’t even use those words, I suppose) and their lifestyle. Live and let live is dead, but it shouldn’t be.
When the federal government is in the hands of the progressive left, they promote environmental armageddonism and force corporations to toe their line. When in the hands of the right, the crisis regulations and government hegemony are rolled back, but many times rolled back too much, leading companies to pollute, destroy, and wantonly exploit resources.
Big companies do whatever is in their best interest to make money, so they cuddle up to whatever side is in power. Politics is awash in dark money, influence, and revolving doors between think-tanks, media, campaigns, lobbyists, and administrations. While the media tends to own the Democrats’ revolving door, think-tanks, lobbyists, lawyers and military industrial companies have plenty of traffic in the Republican portal.
Both parties and tribes exploit our intelligence and Big Brother monitoring state to their own benefit. There is no longer any privacy—normal people with no ill will can be made famous, doxxed, threatened, and expelled from their jobs, families and lives. Look at the poor young man who worked for Dominion Voting Systems in Georgia. Look at professors, instructors, and media members who casually and in valid, academic or earnest teaching environments uttered the “n-word” or even a Chinese word that sounds like it—and were fired or forced to resign.
It’s almost impossible to be normal if you live in a tribe.
Matt Taibbi wrote that the News is America’s new religion, and we’re in a religious war. That’s only really true for the Very Online people, those who shape and form the news, and those running for office or in public (even corporate) positions. For the majority of people who raise our kids, go to work, go home, and have a side hustle (mine is this blog!), we’re just collateral damage.
We’re just as likely to be taken out by friendly fire in this war as we are to be engaged in “enemy” action. And who is the enemy? Our family? Our coworkers? Our friends? Are we not allowed to have liberal friends in the conservative tribe? Are liberals told not to associate with Trump voters who might be vaccine refuseniks? Why?
News in America used to be fun to talk about, fun to joke about, interesting to think about. Now it’s an interminable bummer, because the press business has taken on characteristics of that other institution where talking, joking, and thinking aren’t allowed: church. We have two denominations, both as fact-averse as real churches, as is shown in polls about, say, pandemic attitudes, where Americans across the board consistently show they know less than they think.
There is no set of eyes you can look into without knowing that person is loved by God. We don’t know what the person behind those eyes is going through, what’s in their life, what they find a challenge, what they really enjoy, and what they are thinking.
Living life as a good tribe member frequently means being a horrible person.
Me? I just want to be a good person, a normal person. That means I will be a horrible tribe member. Maybe we should start a new tribe of normal people who reject the other tribes.
Who’s with me?
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Amen to all of that.