let's wipe out tribalism
I was recently at an event in the House of Commons in the evening. Because of the current political climate the place was still heaving with people as votes were being called upon late into the night. Screens denoted what was going on within the Commons. Plus, the bell was constantly ringing calling the MPs in to cast their vote. The bells reminded me of some ancient ritual calling people to gather. It seems evident that tribalism is alive and kicking within this ancient institution.
The event room was at the end of a very long corridor below the main building. Taking a break from the people and noise of the function room I wandered off down the corridor. My natural curiosity was taking in snippets of what else was occurring
Tribalism Damages us
Political tribalism keeps all within a dangerous comfort zone
Quite a different atmosphere to what I might have expected considering the turmoil and flux our country is in at present.
As you walk through the House of Commons you get a real sense of history. There are numerous heavy wooden, medieval looking doors the entire length of the corridor. On one side were obviously kitchens and catering areas as these doors were constantly opening and shutting disgorging staff with plates and platters of food or returning with the empties. On the other side, reflecting the opposite, were what I surmised were smaller dining and function rooms more intimate than the one I had left. Tantalisingly, as some of the doors opened and closed I smelled lovely food aromas and saw numerous empty glasses. There was the sound of cheerful sometimes raucous laughing and I felt a bon vivant atmosphere emanating from these rooms.
Towards the end was the door to the Strangers Bar within which it sounded as though there was quite a party going on. Clearly, despite the outside worlds’ apparent angst over the dreaded Brexit the political tribes were having a good time.
House of Commons Function Rooms
Social groups need not be tribalism
I acknowledge that humans are social animals and we like to be amongst, around and with people like ourselves. This has automatically led to defined social groups or ‘tribes’. We used to do it for survival, then somewhere along the line it transformed into statehood and patriotism. I believe it has now become a hindrance to progress.
Turning back to governments; why should those that govern be organised by party tribes? Why should some MPs views have to come second to what the party wants? Surely it would make much more sense for our governments to be organised by who is qualified and competent to do the job they are allocated? The affiliation to whatever party should come way down the list of concerns.
Comfortable tribalism for some, uncomfortable if you don't fit in
This may seem a radical idea flying in the face of a comfortable tribalism that stops people from asking difficult questions. “We’ve always done it this way” is a notion that business is actively rejecting in the face of economic competitiveness. So why is our political system content with tribalism and the status quo?
We do it to ourselves every day too. Why do we seek to group people by ethnicity or gender? Are we simply not all human beings who need to find ways to get on with each other if we are not to be continually at logger-heads or war?
Even within large companies people tend to group together in departments. Marketing may have a specific view of Sales, administration may conflict with human resources. Management might see themselves as above those in, say, the post room. If the goal for everyone is to ensure their company prospers why are we propagating these silos of tribes within the organisation? Interplay blurring these lines with discussion, communication and consensus seems a much more rational approach for the 21st century.
Tribalism is past its time, outdated, not a 21st century notion
Tribalism, if part of our DNA, should be kept within the confines of things that do not have vast, potentially dramatic or life changing consequences for others. Sports team preferences being one that immediately springs to mind.
We all know that the world is getting ever smaller with the tools of the internet and AI. Instant communication is a reality. Progress and evolution hinges on us using them to their best advantage and effectiveness. To do so we have to let go of outdated, superseded attitudes and structures. We have to get rid of the tired ‘Them & Us’ concept reinforced by today’s practices from top to bottom. No tribalism in world politics and company structures. Drive out this divide in the very fabric of our day to day social awareness.
We have to be brave enough to try something new and I think retiring Tribalism would be a good place to start.