Tribes

July 10, 2016

3 Nephi 7:2–3:

And the people were divided one against another; and they did separate one from another into tribes, every man according to his family and his kindred and friends; and thus they did destroy the government of the land.

And every tribe did appoint a chief or a leader over them; and thus they became tribes and leaders of tribes.

It feels like our society is following the same path as the Nephites. We’re relating to people more according the identity groups they belong to than as fellow human beings. This won’t end well unless we reverse it.

We see this in the tragic shootings this past week. There are bad cops out there, in two different senses of “bad”. There are evil cops, people who enjoy asserting authority over others, or who are corrupt, or who judge people by their skin color or other characteristics. There are also incompetent cops, people without the temperament or training to choose well in the kind of stressful situations police often find themselves in. There are undoubtably cops that fall into both categories. The burden of bad policing, like most bad things in this imperfect world, falls disproportionally on the Black community, but if we treat all cops as oppressors the resulting chaos and lawlessness will also disproportionally harm the Black community. The appropriate response to bad policing is to improve policing (as the Dallas police chief—who is black—has been trying to do) and not to target cops indiscriminately.

Another example of tribalism is what I was discussing in my last post. Too many Democrats see Republicans as the enemy, and support Hillary Clinton out of fear that their rival tribe will come out victorious. Too many Republicans support Trump for the same reason, with the tribes reversed. Neither side sees the other as fellow humans and judges them as individuals by their actions instead of by their affiliation.

There’s a famous Peanuts cartoon where Linus says, “I love mankind. It’s the people I can’t stand.” However, we need to love people as individuals, and see them as more than just members of groups.

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One Response to “Tribes”

  1. Annette Says:

    I’ve had that Book of Mormon description of breaking into tribes on my mind a lot lately, too! I’ve been feeling the same way…that our country is headed in that direction. Scary! I agree completely with what you said about policing. Try to improve it, but don’t target police themselves. I believe very few of them are bad. Hurting our police force will only hurt all of us in the end.


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