Embrace the other tribe


“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

In our lifetime we have seen many upheavals in various countries around the world and many horrible atrocities committed against humanity. We are more and more connected to the flow of that news, yet more and more desensitised at the same time. Our sense of global humanity is an interesting construct, since we are hard-wired to live in smaller tribes and be empathic to familiar people. We can only really store a certain amount of people in our brain (1), beyond that realm we encounter “them” as another tribe.

While researching the tribe versus globalisation, I came across this opinion piece by  (2), and find truth in these lines regarding current events:

Important traumatic events have plunged people all over the globe into an identity crisis. Their response is tribalisation: going back to the tribe they know best.

and while this may give solace to ‘why is this happening?’, it does not give us a sense of security and stability.

This blog is mostly about writing and sharing our cooking project. Yet our collective identity crisis affects also me and our family. Our daughter flipping of the president elect during his press conference is her response to our insecurity about the future. I would like to stress here to be honest: firstly our family’s future, then the broader spread of humanity.

As a researcher I am depended on a favourable political landscape towards (my kind of) science to obtain funding. Without funding I will not be employed, since my salaries are depended on external funding. The EU has been a driving power in providing funding strategies beyond my current tribe in Finland. The political landscape in Finland to fund science has always been good, but resent years this is on the decline (3). This trend we also see in the USA, a frontrunner for scientific endeavours for many decades.

Now it seems we enter a new phase, something I am writing about in my very slowly progressing SciFi novel-thingy. At this rate it seems that it may even be fiction before I can get it published. A new world power is emerging, with another one waiting in the wings. Of course I am referring to China and India, the Dragon and the Elephant. Two countries that look at each other with suspicion, but with a clear understanding of the power of investments in new technologies and creating legislations that open a freedom of operation within their own tribes.

But a citizen of the World I am wary of the near future. The USA has through previous technical and scientific developments and acquisitions build up a wealth and power that influences the rest of the population with a literary unbalanced force. In the last election for example about 40% of the USA (which holds only 5% of the world population) decided to put a person in place with very limited views of the World. We can all argue about the values that that Tribe he represents and we can all argue about it as well, but for our global perspective, it is a step in the wrong direction. Scientific facts do not care about public opinion. Gravitational force is still here wether you deny it or not. Same about evolution, climate change, gender issues, GMOs, vaccinations, and the power of innovation.

Our future may be uncertain, I think our ancestors shared our concerns. They looked at the stars, they conversed with the bones of their ancestors, they invented religion to strengthen the bonds of the tribe in order to survive better. Will a collective connection directly to everybody else aid us? Do we need to enhance our brain (via science mind you) so that Dunbar’s number becomes infinite? Will an encounter with an off-Worldly tribe spark the birth of the Human Tribe? Many stories have been written about this.

So my take on it is that humanity is a collection of stories, and that the narrative of those stories is healing. Some people like poetry, others read horror stories, but at the end of the day we can tell each other stories about that one poem of inspiration or the scary bits of a horror story without forcing the other to read it. To find common ground, to revel in being human, to talk and listen and embrace the other tribe…



(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunbar’s_number

(2) https://euobserver.com/opinion/131413

(3) https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/finland-funding-cuts-catastrophe-research


IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Theophilos Papadopoulos