On our trip through the USA this summer, I began to sense that as Africa becomes more global and cosmopolitan, my native America was growing more fractured and tribal. Stereotypically speaking, in Africa relationships almost always come first. With globalization, the circle of those relationships is rapidly expanding. Increasingly in America, ideology can trump relationship and end friendship. In my environment here in Nairobi, I can move from one radically different cultural context to another within minutes, but those shifts pale in comparison to the whiplash I felt going from one isolated American tribe to another (e.g. moving from Christian Obama lovers to Christian Obama haters.) There were times I felt like if I dared disagree, the conversation might end instantly.
In a recent TED talk, Eli Pariser argued that internet filters (Google, Facebook, etc.) will only accelerate that fragmentation/tribalization.
OR watch his talk on the TED page http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles.html
What is the answer to this perennial human blight?
At GospelFutures, Neil Williams suggests that an inbuilt critique to tribalism is seen in the life of Jesus and the gospel story–relational tranformation–a just life (the concluding post to his a series on relational transformation.)
…What relationships are the hardest to transform? Where is relational failure most evident? An answer is suggested in Jesus’s words to his disciples, “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” (Matthew 5:46-47).
…It is difficult to read and interact with the accounts of Jesus without noticing his relational integrity with and love for outsiders. [Neil lists a few examples from the Gospels.] …If there was one thing that riled up people, it was Jesus’s relationship with outsiders…So the gospel story has an inbuilt critique and challenge to exclusive clubs. The appeal is to transform these most difficult and problematic of relationships…
At a minimum: Make, keep, and love friends who see the world differently than you do and disagree with you–especially those who are likely to be marginalized by your tribe. It’s not easy, but it’s the Jesus thing to do.