One of the things that I am always contending against is tribalism, an “us versus them,”  “my team versus your team,” or in-group mentality. Tribalism can be found among the political and religious right-wing, partisan Democrats and Republicans, Libertarians, liberals, conservatives, and even moderates and centrists. No one is fully exempt from in-group thinking, but we should be aware of it and try to overcome it as much as possible.

Tribalism is unhealthy as it can lead to unnecessary divisions, foster hatred of those who are not in the in-group, and prevent calm discourse.

To help overcome tribalism we should be thinking of ways for us to get along, find common causes, and seek ways to communicate that is not full of spin and verbal abuses. This means that compromise will be at the heart of this endeavor. Unfortunately for many, compromise has become a dirty word. Much of the in-group thinking is culturally and psychologically conditioned, and can even be a part of our genetic makeup.

So, when you are discussing things with people, be aware of how tribalism can often effect and even impede that communication. Try to expand your thinking by listening to what others are saying, being sympathetic towards their views, even when you disagree, try to find areas of agreement, and be understanding. I know this can often be difficult, and for some people it will be impossible, but if we are going to get past many of our disagreements and partisan bickering we need to start somewhere, and overcoming tribalism will be a big step in the right direction.


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