: a group of people that includes many families and relatives who have the same language, customs, and beliefs
This is the Merriam- Webster online dictionaries definition of tribe. In the traditional sense this is how I would define the word tribe too. The word conjures in my mind, images of indigenous people, hordes, clans, small pockets of humans banded together with the same values and desires for survival.
More and more I read in popular blogs and online articles a new meaning for the definition of the word tribe. Today, modern media uses the word to describe a group of people who share an occupation, common interest, or habit. That got me thinking about the people I hang with, would I classify them as my tribe? If not, who would I want to be in a modern tribe with and why?
One of the reasons the word tribe has seen a morphing of it’s definition to reflect a more current understanding, is that in North America, the population is made up of mostly immigrants from all over the world. The only people who could honourably attach the title of tribe(s) that would authentically describe someone coming from this geographical part of the world are the first nations people who first settle here thousands of years ago. The rest of us may identify with our cultural roots and even practise our ancestral traditions but once we embrace the North American culture of our adopted home our identity changes to a multicultural status. As subsequent generations are born here, the lines between the original tribe’s values and the mashed up values of our western world blur. We become dis-connected from our original identity, our ancestral tribe.
Today, we fuse our traditions and holidays together so as not to offend anyone, we even fuse our foods together and form hybrid culinary styles to further evolve the multi-cultural melting pot, anyone for Asian/Italian perogies?
So it is not surprising that as humans, we seek to connect with others who we can identify with in some familiar way, to have a sense of belonging on a deeper more personal level. That is what the new tribing has accomplished.
If you frequently hang out with people who have banded together over the passion of knitting (insert your personal passion here), you can call your group a tribe. If you regularly meet with your graduated university colleagues to network and to support each other, call that association your tribe and if you practise yoga and a bunch of you enjoy searching out new classes to try, then that troop could be your tribe.
The old tribe systems for the most part were based on geography, genetics, common ancestry, language and beliefs. Today, we move frequently for jobs, we travel widely, we are highly educated compared to our ancestors and we are more excepting of different cultures and beliefs so we are more likely to stray from the traditional livelihoods that may have kept us rooted to old doctrines.
But we still want to feel connected, that we belong to something bigger than ourselves, while being excepted for our unique contributions. The great thing about modern tribes is you get to pick which one you want to belong to. You might not even realize that the group of people that has become an important part of your life is your tribe, but if you gain a sense of belonging, an unquestionable acceptance from them, then they are.
When searching out a new tribe there are some components that are needed to create a bond.
- The people in the group must except each member for who they are, warts and all. There must be an understanding, even if it is unspoken that once you are excepted into the tribe you hold equal rights to be a member.
- There needs to be a common thread that hold the tribe together. It may be a hobby, a belief, a shared history, it could be the people in the group are all going through the same experience like raising pre-school aged children for example.
- The tribe needs to regularly come together and interact. Creating a collective memory base tightens the tribal bond.
- The tribe must support each other. Knowing that you are not alone when a crisis hits, that there are people who have your back. Safety in numbers. That is one of the core reasons that people have banded together in tribes for millennia.
So think about the collection of people you associate with. Is there a core group that you tend to gravitate to when you want to be yourself? Do they truly know you and except you for who you are? Would they come to your rescue if you where stranded somewhere? Will they laugh with you, cry with you, and will they tell you the truth when you really need to hear it?
That is your tribe. You are truly lucky…. and so are they.