The Individual and the Tribe versus the Collective
Let’s all get on the same page before I start this. The term tribe has gotten very trendy lately. When I talk about tribe, I’m talking about the people I have face to face, real connection with. You and I may agree completely on all things related to politics, faith, the non-stop buffoonery that comes from within the beltway and the need to eat right, train hard and do manly things that push our personal boundaries. If we’ve never met face to face, however, we ain’t tribe. Nothing personal, but without that face to face, shoulder to shoulder connection, it just can’t be. Tribe has been, is and always will be, a group of people you can call at two in the morning that can and will come running with whatever gear is needed and the will and ability to do what needs to be done. You can expand this in our current age to friends who will get on a plane on no or short notice to be there when needed, that is as far as I will go on the real definition of tribe. Why do I start with this? Because I’ve seen too many places on line where people call themselves tribe members, brother, what have you, and they don’t even know what each other looks like. Time to move on.
It’s been said that one of the greatest marketing tools of Wall Street is the ideal of the rugged individual. The ideal is the lone wanderer traveling by himself, righting wrongs along the way, living by his own rules. He has his adventures, gets scuffed up, kills some bad guys and, in the end, saves the day and gets the girl, if he chooses to have her. Historically, this is a load of crap. To use a movie reference, a man alone is easy prey. That should make you think.
Yes, you in the back, you have a question? What? Yes, America was founded on the idea that an individual can go as far in life as his will and ability allows. This falls in line with the idea of tribalism, but spits in the face of collectivism. You see, a tribal environment encourages individual excellence because that promotes the wellbeing of the tribe. The collectivist wants us all to be equal, equally mediocre. The tribe, and the way this nation was founded, say we all have an equal opportunity to excel in life. That is a huge difference.
The difference is this. The individual is encouraged to excel within the structure of the tribe. They become the best they can be, they benefit, the tribe benefits. In my old shop, there was an unspoken (some of the time) expectation with the operators. We were expected to maintain high levels with our individual skills, marksmanship, physical fitness, etc. We were also expected to be able to operate at high levels working as a member of the team, a cohesive unit that could function under high levels of stress. If you weren’t getting better, you were getting worse. There was no treading water..
Compare this to what the collective mindset wants. Don’t rock the boat, you aren’t special. Lead a quiet, mediocre life. Drink cheap beer, eat crap food, get fat and watch tv. Stay healthy enough so you can work to buy more stuff that will either break or be obsolete in a short time so you can buy even more stuff. Don’t get too involved with or attached to others who may ask you to go out of your way or even, God forbid, inconvenience you.
Think about it, which do you want for you and yours?