I’ve seen this meme a few times now on Facebook. When I first saw it, I’ll be honest, I groaned at yet another schmaltzy meme appearing in my news feed. Then I thought to myself, they’re not much of a friend if they seriously fall out with you over politics. I mean, a debate over a few beers or a glass of wine sure, but this meme made it sound like serious shit. My train of thought then continued and I thought, actually this meme is being posted to counteract all the bigotry and nastiness that we’re seeing on social media, so I forgave that meme a little. It’s just a small shout of: group hug, amongst a load of nasty bollocks and an awful lot of uncertainty.
It made me think of a conversation I was having with Dad on Father’s Day last week. He was talking about tribes and how essentially the world is, as it has always been, tribal. He said that at the end of the day, when the shit hits the fan, we return to our tribe. We associate ourselves with groups that we can identify with and these groups give our existence meaning. Tribes have always been an essential for community and security. Sometimes a group we are a part of becomes too big and we start to feel that we are losing our own identity and it then that we retreat back to our tribe.
Now, here’s the thing: we will all quite happily create networks of tribes to expand in various ways that will make things better for the tribe, but ultimately the tribal instinct is to hang out with people who share our values, looks, humour, food and desires.
So where does all our innate tribalism leave us as a country now that we have divided into two camps: remain and leave. One camp has a majority and has, ‘won’, but within those who are ‘in’ and those who are ‘out’, there are friends transcending both groups. Thus, coming back to that schmaltzy meme. If we are going to move forwards, we need to gather the tribes together, friends need to reunite, we need to pursue a common goal in order to make this happen. Rise above the cultural tribal drift. One thing that is certain: a tribe needs a leader. Not ‘big man’ leadership ∗ – look at me, I’ll solve the problem, but a leader who has depth and breadth.
And tribal trust.
∗Leadership For a Fractured World: How to Cross Boundaries, Build Bridges and Lead Change
By Dean Williams