Monday, December 11, 2017

Enemy Mine

the enemy narrative seems to be a deeply embedded human narrative. It's may even be tied in to our genetic drive for tribe. Kind of hard to have a solid sense of tribal identity if everyone in the tribe can change tribal affiliations at will - revolving door tribal identities aren't an acceptable thing.

I'd venture that in our current era, most of our tribal affiliations are imaginary. Doesn't make them wrong or bad or any less potent, the affiliations are just not tied to raw survival. Example. I am "a lot" Swedish. Still have family in Sweden. But if Sweden goes to war, I am not going to feel personally threatened. I'll worry about family - but my sense of physical safety and security won't be under attack. I am also "a lot" Irish. Same thing goes.

Tribal affiliations to our chosen organizations and even cultural heritage are rarely tied to our original drives for maintaining tribe. Sort of. Working this out...

Let's say I'm part of a Facebook group and over time, everyone in the group - leaves. The group page may still hold a spot in the interwebs, but the tribe has disbanded. Poof. Extinct. A year from now very few people, if any, will remember the group ever existed. Woe is me, such a loss!

But...if I founded this group and it's purpose is SUPER important to me and everyone is like 'meh' and moves on, I am likely to feel at the minimum, a tad irritated and on the opposite extreme - deeply betrayed.

And. If you leave my FB group for another group of a similar focus - now you are an enemy. You are my competition. You, are a traitor. You are loyal to me, or you are my enemy.

Are we so fiercely protective of our imaginary tribes because the evolution of humans' higher level skills (prefrontal cortex stuff) has outpaced the evolution of our tribal functions/drives? There is an internal disparity in these two evolutionary tracks and I wonder if that's why we engage in such dysfunctional behavior.  Think about this. If I belong to one martial arts group and then get involved in a second - there is a powerful martial mores that says my behavior is bad and wrong.

About a year ago I was looking into Libre - nosing around more than anything. A martial colleague reached out and said "hey, I'm a Libre guy and we could work together and make your school a location" (paraphrased). This could be fun, I'm thinking. But......I was also connected to someone else, a different martial colleague who had a few connections to Libre and taught knife stuff....and there was a subtle resistance to this from the first person. The connection never happened - for a variety of reasons btw - I'm just using this as an example to highlight the point.

The Gracie BJJ organization had a video circulating in which one of the Gracies made an overt statement that if you trained with him and then you also decided to train with someone else you were really fucking up and he would take it personally- a betrayal and a violation of ethics.

Another example - I'm connected pretty deeply with a couple of Martial 'tribes'. A representative of one of the tribes and I had a conversation ....can't remember when...a year? two years ago? The conversation included a questioned posed to me...why would you risk the approval and support of our organization to be connected to another one?

Somewhat paraphrased because naming the tribes is irrelevant here. It highlights though, the strong drift humans have toward the enemy narrative.

You are either with us, or against us.

Historical references go back at least as far as the Judeo-Christian Old Testament Book of Joshua - this is super important to us.

I am chasing about 5 different rabbit trails in this context right now - maybe there will be a few more posts on it as I play around with it. At this moment, I am landing on a couple of things:

1. if the purpose of a tribe is to make people better, stronger, more resilient expressions of themselves then this tribe would be violating it's own purpose for existence to say "you can only be stronger and more resilient in MY way..." because-
2. If as a tribe, I restrict your ability to become stronger and more resilient to the greatest degree possible then I make you vulnerable to the types of strength other tribes are developing...i.e. you can only be strong the way MY tribe is strong.
3. This creates an obvious weakness easily exploited by the enemies my tribe has created by drawing this line.

Rory once posed the it possible to shift tribes without creating an enemy narrative? It should be possible because the tribal identities are a) chosen and b) irrelevant to daily survival. However, the disparity in evolution of our monkey and human brains may create such an intense dystonic state that we may find the paradox too intense and capitulate to the stronger monkey drives no matter what we do. And yes - I am using the WE on purpose. The WE applies to both the tribe and the Benedict Arnold's.

Sooo many thoughts - but given I'm at the end of cogent thoughts at the moment - I'll put a pin in it for now.


  1. I so relate to this, my one tribe really looks down on the other tribe. My other tribe really looks down at my other tribe. Members of each tribe discredit the other. All I want to do is train hard and run a successful business.

    1. "all I want to do is train hard and run a successful business" - that resonates. That being said, I have to acknowledge I've had my own moments with this struggle : ).

  2. Every choice you make is a rejection of the people who made that choice differently; you are challenging their identity. There are so many ways this plays out, including newlyweds who try to marry off all their friends.

    I would appreciate it if you could avoid using the term "Judeo-Christian" because it arose as an attempt to co-opt Jewish people into evangelical Christian conservatism. Christianity is in direct opposition to Judaism in many ways and traditionally has been a great and terrible threat to Jews.