Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Tribal Man

Man has always been a tribal creature. The earliest humans, like many animals, formed clans for the purposes of hunting and territorial defense. Later, as man spread across the globe, his disparate populations developed their own physical traits, language, culture and rituals. Today, humans retain their tribal identities: we call them nationality, race and religion.

This week's senseless tragedy at Virginia Tech, covered by every available newsperson in the country, highlights our tribal loyalties. Most of us can personally identify with the scene of the carnage, having attended a U.S. college or as parents/friends of college students. I suspect that many of us were somehow relieved that the culprit was an "outsider," a foreign national who apparently felt alienated in our culture. At least it wasn't one of our own.

Meanwhile, on the other side of our planet, such mass killings are occuring every day, in a war that was instigated by our own tribe. Reports of those Iraqi deaths barely register a blip on our conciousness. The same might be said of the ongoing tragedy in Darfur.

Hopefully, man will evolve beyond his need for tribal distinctions. Only then will Earth become a planet of peace.