On Tribes and Community: Part 5, Tribes and Self-Criticism

The question I left us with last week in Part 4 was if we can create a tribe without all the bad stuff.

I think so, I hope so. I do think, however, that every tribe brings into our lives a suite of temptations that have to be monitored and managed. We need a tribe, but tribes have a dark side that needs to be resisted.

I wrote about this last fall. I made the argument across a few posts that since we can't 100% eliminate the temptations of a tribe we should at least join a tribe that has resources for self-criticism. From one of my posts last fall:
I don't know if humans can ever escape creating tribal affiliations and identities. Wanting to be a part of a tribe seems hard-wired into the human psyche.

A tribe gives us a home, a place of community and belonging. And yet, tribes are also the source of much evil. Prejudice, scapegoating, war.

The best we can hope for, I think, is being a part of a tribe that has resources for self-criticism.
I then went on describe how the Old Testament enshrines this self-criticism. Ponder the witness of the prophets. Israel canonizes self-criticism in the prophets. Self-criticism becomes the Word of God for Israel.

The voice that Israel elevates as God's voice is a voice that criticizes the tribe.

Of course, this doesn't prevent Israel from falling into tribalism. Tribes will be tribes. But in the prophets Israel built in capacities for self-criticism that help keep the tribalism in check.

All that to say, I don't know if we can wholly avoid the temptations of the tribe, but we can join and create a tribe that has the resources to push back on its worst impulses.

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