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Leaving The Tribe

“We have considered the importance of abandoning a tribal outlook,” Armstrong reminds us (156), “but this is not easy. We all have busy lives, an dnot everybody has either the time or the inclination to undertake the difficult and sensitive task… .”

The task is difficult because tribal perspectives are a type of diversity and remain useful. It is not useful, though, to let my tribe shield me from yours. Violence and intolerance are the only two possible outcomes. The wars declared by religions against each other — the crusades and inquisitions — are a festering scar on humanity’s body.

How do we avoid this? We need a panoramic view.

“The effort of getting to know one another,” Armstrong writes (156), “demands sound information and a willingness to question recieved ideas.” There is simply no way to do this without inconvenience and effort. If there is no discussion group or reading group, form one. Find books, articles, or discussion points that challenge your settled notions. In other words?

Begin with yourself

Christians, for example, decry the violence and intolerance they attribute to Islam yet remain blind to the Crusades. The same Christians who today embrace Jews as allies are completely unaware of the Inquisition and the scars that linger from Christian attempts to force Jews to convert.

Jewish ignorance is no less an issue. Many Jews are completely unaware that Jewish women were commonly veiled at one time — and that Yemenite women came to Israel veiled in 1949.

It’s fine to begin with yourself. At some point, however, you need to make room for others.

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