Human Tribes

This is another draft from at least a couple years ago:

I was in the UK a little while ago where I met with a colleague with whom I had an interesting conversation. We talked about what we all as human beings have in common, what makes us different and how we associate ourselves with different groups at different times and often with multiple groups at the same time. I really enjoyed our conversation over a couple beers at one of London’s oldest pubs. He even told me a bit of history of Ely Place in a way that brought forward even more thoughts about us all sharing this Earth.

His point was that all human beings are tribal creatures. We belong to one or more tribes. We talked about some examples of this (such as I belong to the Armenian tribe while he belongs to the English tribe but we both belong to the male tribe). He also said that he belongs to the Londoner tribe while I am now also a member of the American tribe and so on. I haven’t stopped thinking about this conversation and see examples of this everywhere. The Yankees fans and the Red Sox fans may not realize that they are all “damn Yankees” for those that belong to the Southern tribe in this country.

The question in my mind is why does one tribe then (such as those who work at Oracle) try to do everything to compete and win against another tribe (such as those who work at SAP)? The rich vs. the poor. The Democrats vs. the Republicans. The smokers vs. the non-smokers. Why does one tribe like Turks do everything it can to exterminate another tribe like Armenians?

The answer came to me as I was mowing the lawn a few weeks ago. I drove the mower over tall grass (hadn’t been able to cut the grass in a couple weeks) and chopped it all down to a level that “looked great.” For whom? For me of course. The grass had no chance. The peace loving grass that works hard with its peace loving friends trees and shrubs and other plants to convert the exhaust of our life into the very element without which we cannot survive for a second had no chance against my mower. I chopped it down with no mercy and I even thought “maybe it’s good for the grass, maybe it grows healthier.” The little rabbit family that lived on that land for hundreds of generations also had no chance. A much more powerful force that belonged to the human tribe and cared little for who really owned the land was driving his mower right over “his” land to make it look good and feel happy for himself with little or no regard for the little tribe of rabbits and other animals that had “owned” this land far before he was ever born.

Our association with a tribe can be strong or week, can be stronger at some points in our lives (or even during a single day) and weaker at other times. That association can create internal and external conflict or give us tremendous peace.

This member of the Armenian tribe asks all his tribesmen to recognize that our only hope is in our unity. We have no chance against the mowers of the various powerful tribes unless we become strong. This strength will only come from our hard work and contribution to our people. No one will sit idly and wait for us to gain strength. They have and will continue to mow us down with economic, political, social and internal mowers. These are great ways to keep us down and “looking great and pleasing them.” Which generation of our people has seen no war, no destruction? Even today our brothers and sisters are caught in a civil war in Syria.

I realize within the small Armenian tribe we belong to those from Turkey or Iran or Armenia or America or France. Even those of us from Armenia like to say we’re from Yerevan or from Artsakh and other regions. Even the ones from Yerevan think of their tribes as those from Monument or from Bangladesh.¬†We belong to this or that religious sect. We speak different dialects or have lost our language and are considered to belong to the “lost Armenians” tribe. But are those issues so important when we, like the peace loving grass that works hard every day to make everything around it happier, get mowed down or sprayed with Genocide (red and white variety) to keep us from growing?

I have great respect for the entire British people. They have taught us so much! This English colleague of mine added to that teaching some more. Every day when my children speak their language, I cry inside but with each day my respect for their mower grows. It’s a special kind of mower that transforms and grows to benefit their interests. We also need to learn from the Russians, and the Turks, and the Jews and every other tribe on this earth including our own history if we want to have any hope of survival. Every one of us must work 10 times harder than the members of larger tribes to preserve and promote our culture, our language, our people. We owe it to our ancestors and we owe it to our descendants.

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