Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Tribalization

I was a member once. We, in the tribe, spent most of our waking hours together. We seemed to know exactly what to do though nothing was in writing. It was my eight years, plus or minus, called Childhood. Mysteriously, the rules of behavior were passed down….. marbles, chalk games, potsie, hop scotch, jump rope, mumblypeg, stick ball, curb games, stoop ball, ring-a-levio, kick the can, et al. All, a credit to an enduring oral tradition though I’m not all sure that tradition has survived suburban backyards. My tribe existed on the streets and sidewalks of New York, borough of Queens. I have no doubt the same language with the same rule books were played out in Brooklyn and the Bronx.

As we grew older we left the tribe as unceremoniously as we entered it. We got the word…….individuate! We became one-of-kind, or so we thought. Aren’t I unique! After all who but I inhales Peggy’s muse, worshiped Paul Robeson, have rooted for the Dodgers for the past 79 years, played basketball in college, hate goat cheese, love crazy asymmetric splotched shirts, adore all things pumpkin, and despise Donald Trump more than goat cheese.

Which brings us to this new tribalization of America. Today we have those of us who watch MSNBC or CNN and that other tribe who get their received wisdom from FOX News. The chasm is measurable in light years. Our vocabulary has diverged. Consider their refrain of Deep State, fake news, perfect phone call, witch hunt, pro-life, and the hundreds of juvenile terms of derogation issuing from the malevolent clown prince of obfuscation.

With our two tents are we no less tribal than Afghanistan with its 350 factions? No. I want to argue that there is but one tribe…that den of dunces, mesmerized workers, greedy money-counters and spineless politicians who chant on cue for proto-fascist acts. Those of us abhorred by his daily antics are a widely diverse group ranging from Bloomberg to Bernie, from George Will to Rachel Maddow with dozens of stops in between. Our voices are a cacophony, not a choir. Motley not monolithic. Centrists may not show up for Warren nor will the Progressives abide Biden. Opposition to Trump is not tribal; it is the surmise of common sense, of enlightened deliberation as well as daily outrage. He has exhausted my store of adjectives and managed, whether inadvertently or by design, to scar our landscape and blunt our critical thinking. He has retribalized millions with a potion of deceit and incivility which can only be issued by a person of pathological self-absorption.


Mumblypeg, also known at Territory, was played with pocket 
knives. We actually carried such things in our non-violent tribe. We tossed the blade into the ground creating angles to thwart our opponent. All very fuzzy in my head. There was a strip of land about the size of two doors lengthwise just outside my apartment building. It is where my memory takes me now.That hunk of earth was a mere 25 yards from Kew Forest School which little Donald attended for a few years.

Metaphorically, he has taken those knives and slashed the fabric of our nation disfiguring our democratic tapestry and all notions of decency and honesty. Whether that suppurating wound is reparable depends on his removal from office.

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