The good part of being tribal is that you have fascinating rituals, beliefs and convictions. When I travel, I actively seek out groups practicing customs that are different from mine. On the island of Mog Mog, I learned a different way to look at funerals and death. In Nova Scotia, I was wowed by the celebration of life at the scene of great tragedy. In Denver, I attended my first baseball game as an adult, and was as intrigued by what happened in the stadium as I was by the excitement on the field. In Taipei, a temple with multiple gods was an eye-opener: people could pick and choose to whom they wanted to address their prayers and longings. In Guatemala, I learned that a shawl draped over the shoulder of a Maya girl can indicate she’s open to finding a beloved. In Thailand, I loved the spirit houses people built. In Istanbul, my heart soared at a Sufi ceremony. In Tunisia, it was very moving to be included in an iftar meal, where the fast of Ramadan was broken at night. On the island of Djerba, I was awed by the annual Ghriba celebration in the ancient Jewish community. In Ukraine, a male church choir, hitting impossibly low notes, took my breath away.
Do you belong to a tribe? The answer is: you probably do. Unless you are a parthenogenically-produced hermit living in a log cabin in the inaccessible woods, you belong, even peripherally, to some tribe. It can be a sports team, religion, government or corporate entity, spiritual group, sorority or fraternity, country, cult, ethnic group, profession, sex, race, military branch, political party, pro or anti movement, or any other special interest group. And even though you may not want to admit it, it probably skews the way you look at the world. When events occur, you ask, even if you don’t formulate the words: is it good for us? Does it fit with my, or our view of the way things should be?