Tribalism

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I am a Broncos fan, win or lose. This is easy to believe and live by when your team wins most of its games. 2017 has not been a winning year for Denver. For eight weeks in a row the Broncos found both interesting and creative ways to lose. Somehow I have managed to remain a fan.

This commitment to a particular team is best described as tribalism. An unwavering allegiance that can even withstand logic. The survival of sports franchises around the world depend on fans with this kind of blind allegiance.

Blind allegiance is what makes sports fun. There is nothing quite fun as calling up a friend from another city when my team has beat his team! This same type of fanaticism is destructive in every other arena of life. Plato was credited with declaring, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Blind allegiance, whether in politics or religion, is dangerous and destructive. It seems to me that too many people have chosen tribalism over civility when it comes to religion and politics in 2017.

We need to examine our politics. We need to find the courage to change teams when necessary. It should be obvious, but voting someone simply because they are on our particular team is uninformed at best. In today’s climate, a refusal to change teams may even lead to predators getting elected simply because they are on the right team.

Examination, reflection, and asking questions is the only way to move beyond the radicalized violence of religion as evidenced in both the Christianized Ku Klux Klan and the Islamic jihadists. Blind allegiance too often creates a space for uniformed and prejudicial condemnation. Seeing the bigger picture and understanding why people choose to worship in certain ways helps to move faith and religion beyond the harmful tendencies of narrow tribalism.

I dream of a world where tribalism is only expressed when the Broncos play. I hope and pray that both our religion and politics can mature enough so that we can see things from the other perspective, and maybe even change teams when our side has gone off the rails.