I’ve been watching the news over the past week or so, and as an American I am concerned for my future, and for the world’s future. Whether it’s internal threats like the that posed by an out-of-control Virginia state government threatening tyranny, or the recent dustup with Iran and all the intertwined global interests there, I sense great change on the wind.
I mean true unrest, genuine upheaval.
Certainly, I’m not paralyzed with fear or anything like that, on the contrary, it’s all kicking my brain into a survival mode. One thing that has come to mind is the value of tribal connections. The modern first-world culture doesn’t generally operate tribally, we act as more a disconnected collective. That is, we form a societies of millions of people in cities and go about the tasks of living our lives and hoping to maybe leave some solitary mark on the world. Hordes of people, shoulder-to-shoulder, cheek-to-cheek, and utterly disconnected from each other. And as long as things lumber along, so do the masses.
However, in times of true crisis, two groups of people emerge: those who strike out alone, and those that band together. Truth be told, I personally gravitate to the loner group, as my view of trusting other people is a cynical one. However, unless you are supremely skilled, well-provisioned, and hidden, the loners don’t fair as well as the tribes. In tribal groups, each member looks after the others, with a sense of value inherent in one’s membership in the tribe. You’re expected to contribute effort and personal equity to make things work, and you’re on guard against threats to the tribe. It sounds barbaric to the modern ear, but it really isn’t, not in a crisis. It’s logical, efficient, and if done well, fulfilling.
The applicable structure in Viking culture would be more properly termed “Clans”, not “tribes”, and from this point forward that’s what they’ll be called. In my mind, the word clan means something more than just a tribe, it’s an aspirational word. One’s clan means survival in a hostile world, but it also means looking to the future and a forging a legacy to pass down. For me, such a legacy is to improve the condition of the clan, and by extension improve the human condition. In that hope, I would try to transcend my cynicism.
I would challenge any of you reading this to consider who your clan is, and who and what you’d like it to be.