Our Degree of Care Extends Only as Far as We Can Relate

Our view of society is contoured by the attributes we inherit and develop throughout our lives. Characteristics like gender, ethnicity, sexuality, political preference, lifestyle, all impact the way reality is witnessed. These features usher us towards demographics suited to our disposition, the people we elect to befriend carrying certain qualities akin to and attracting us. These groups make us feel secure and help solidify personal perception of the self, however they can also lead to one-dimensional thinking where anything outside their realm is hazardous.

When considering the composition of the world individuals don’t often observe unison of the human race, rather utilising the demarcation of “us and them”. This mentality has accompanied us since our hunter-gatherer ancestors and the fear keeping them alive now facilitates bigotry and prejudice. While living in the contemporary world we are still connected to our tribal nature; becoming conscious of this one can attempt to observe their biases and slowly learn to detribalize to an objective, humanistic worldview.


Why is it difficult for many to place themselves in the shoes of those they cannot instinctively relate to? Because we are tribalized and have been since birth.

From young age we are conditioned to devotedly support our team before we are even cognizant of what it means to do so – a nation, city, sports club, religion, a parent during a divorce, we take the opinions of our guardians as guiding principles and explore the world with them.

With maturation comes the development of self and the titles thrown upon us gain weight as we cultivate an idea of what it means to given the labels. Attaining deeper awareness of our inherited titles we typically gravitate to those bolstering the same, predilection and familiarity breathing life into many friendships. A point of affinity provides people an avenue to relate to one another, yet without such an opening others become more like abstractions than individuals. 

When others become concepts rather than actualities people begin to infer behavioural traits, “Typical x Supporter” a sentence uttered by devotees to denote their aversion of converse thought. This stereotyping is ubiquitous throughout the globe and evolves into its most abhorrent form when used to denounce an ethnic group. Without the tools to mentally position oneself into the lives of others the concept of everyone being human is neglected for the attitude of “They’re a different breed”.

Racial segregation has been recurrent in civilization yet most aren’t aware that race in itself doesn’t exist, it’s a human construction built for categorization. Where an individual is raised gives them particular world-view which tint is arduous to remove. Just as there is “Orthodox” religion, different cultures have developed what they believe to be the esteemed recipe for life. When confronted with an alternate perspective to their belief it is customarily treated with ridicule, confusion and fear.

The fear of the unknown means many don’t want to put themselves in the position of another. Seldom vision of varying traditions deprives an individual familiarity with the colours of the world, ensuring sight of only a singular hue.


During the colonial period the term Detribalization meant an imperialist power attempting to detach natives from their culture, dismantling a community with the modest intention of modernizing “the savages”. While the institutionalized barbarism by the West highlights the depravity of colonialism, the behaviour also shines light on our own contemporary tribes.

The brilliant mythologist Joseph Campbell used the notion of detribalization to help people observe their inherited biases and understand how they implant in the mind. As mentioned previously we are all products of our environment and throughout life we initiate ourselves into an array of tribes. Once we can see the existence of these clans one can attempt tracing their mental lineage to how their support first rose – Was it inherited at birth? Does it stem from an experience? Did a friend provide information? Grasping how our own attitudes spawn we can apply the same tactic to others and activate the idea that they aren’t different, just filled with different anecdotes.

When one learns to temporarily strip themselves of individuality they gain a more objective view of the human condition. Acknowledging the enormous spectrum of emotion faced during existence connects us to our fellow sapiens. Joviality to sorrow, excitement to boredom, relaxation to arousal, these sensations signify we are living and unite us with others through shared experience. Comparative philosopher Julian Baggini wrote, “ If you recognize yourself in another, treating the other as yourself becomes not an abstract duty but second nature”. Through emotion the doors of association open and one can start seeing how they relate to those outside their tribe.

Open dialogue is a great tool of detribalization if earnestly engaged with. To utilize the utensil one must come to a conversation without a preconceived notion of what’s going to come from the other, to not automatically denote any views contrary to your own wrong but see how the individual came to that conclusion.

It’s through conversing with those considered most dissimilar we extract the most about ourselves. They galvanize new thought, make us question our own beliefs and allow any holes to be filled with veracity.

From our earthy arrival we are unknowingly prescribed into our family tribe and the inclusion means acceptance of particular beliefs – we know what the words and colours signify, but have no real cognizance of what they mean. Our guardians and environment are the earliest influences of our worldview, growing older we confront new experiences and these initial ideas either inflate or expire.

The attributes complementing an individual define them in several ways and often align them with particular groups. If one elects to attach to a tribe it’s wise to avoid indulging personal views and consider the variation of human thought, consciousness may bind everyone yet it’s also what makes us unique. When you see people as conglomerates of their upbringing, environment and personality you remove fear and animosity and draw acquaintance with the diversity of the human condition.

Image source: Dailymail

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