A realistic view of politics, tribalism and the war with each other.

You have a car is it best to go faster or slow down?

The answer is of course……it depends.

Progressives go fast and conservatives go slow. Progressives are always progressing towards an ideal which may or may not exist without ever having a metric for arrival. Conservatives preserve tradition sometimes for the benefit of all, sometimes falling behind the times.

This car needs to change speeds often depending on the terrain and circumstances and neither party is consistently infallible and at the right speed.

The people who think we always need to go fast are wrong.

The people who always want to hit the breaks are wrong.

And these ridiculous tribal wars – these blue and red arguments about who is (always) right and (always) the right speed are both flawed.

The real problem exists because of tribalism. Our identification with our team over the individual issues. Our lack of nuance. Our inability to look at individual issues while we side with our “team” no matter what.  The problem is in our lack of communication between sides (or eradication of sides like we’re seeing with this ndp/liberal coaltion and censorship billls) and the tribal push to agree with your side….OR ELSE.

There’s no more room for nuance and individuality. 

You see, your opinion doesn’t need an identity. Individuals are capable of having their own opinions within an identifiable group. In a world that is supposedly progressive and inclusive, the identity politics have never been more divisive and hateful.

An identity first model prevents us from hearing the information we need. It cuts us off from our humanness and our ability to empathize with the other. Cancel culture is the desire to cut off and cancel anyone that disagrees with you. It prevents conversation and learning and too many leap to joyously cancel dissenting opinions without even having a strong recognition of what those option are or who that person is that is being cancelled. 

We see this with flags or pronouns in bios. People will come across an account with this immediate identity marker and they will check out from the conversation altogether because they’ve already decided something about this person. And this person is using an identity first model to explain their opinions. 

What if you were so much more that your group identity? I think we forget that. I think we forgot that our opinions don’t need identities. That we be a part of a culture or group without adopting every single opinion of that group. That we can and should question things within our own groups and seek to see commonality and middle ground amongst these different groups. 

Africa Brooke coins cancel culture as collective self sabotage. We are encouraging this social phenomenon because people love to be a part of a tribe. But it’s harmful and hurtful to us all. Hence the term collective self sabotage. 

Our culture is Canada is predominately left leaning. It’s taking over our educational institutions, media and small friend groups. This growing social tribe uses aggression to gain membership. And it led to my fast evacuation from the left tribe. But before you stop reading here pause. This is not a story about how the left is bad it’s a story about the harms of tribalism and our current mob mentality culture in general. So if you wanted to stop here because you’re tribal fires were already burning at this paragraph, stop and read on. It’s a problem and I’ll tell you why.

I always identified as a person on the left. My friends were all on the left. I was told at every election that “there was no other choice.” The yoga communities I was immersed in all were left. The trainings I took emphasized leftists ideologies. The news I watched was left  (but that realization came later in life). My university was left leaning. I was told by society at large that good people were progressive people voted left. That if you voted conservative it meant you were a bad capitalist that hated the poor. That you were a trump supporter. A bigot. That you had to put black squares in your bio, or change your little social media icon to a certain flag to be a good a person and be a part of this tribe. That you had to adopt an opinion based on the latest thing to be a part of this tribe and if you didn’t , well you just weren’t a good person. And I did a lot of it for a long time because I didn’t deeply understand the politics and ideologies that I was supporting. I was just a part of group think. I was in the tribe.

Like everything in life there is a pendulum. We start an exercise/diet program and go all in to the point where we realized our celery juicing and daily hour run is unsustainable and we crash swinging to the other side eating whatever we want and hitting the couch.

My politics did this to me. Waking up to the fact that some of the social justice movements I was aggressively told to support were actually run by marxist individuals who used the money raised to buy mansions and verbally expressed outloud that they had intent to destroy the nuclear family made me question my tribal memberships. These memberships where everyone joined because if you didn’t (silence is violence) or if you questioned it, you were a bigot, a racist, a homophobe, a nazi (a very effective way to gain new memberships by the way). 

My pendulum swung when I realized each and every bit of news I was receiving was not influenced but paid for the leftist government. That universities teach leftist theories. That big tech platforms like Twitter and Facebook are not neutral free speech platforms but ones that censor content from the right (Elon musk was onto something here and he exposed a lot when we sought out to buy twitter).

My pendulum swung when I realized that I had been forced to self censor common sense questions, squash my intuitive feelings that something was off and that being told to adopt certain thoughts and opinions was a requirement of my membership on the left. 

So I swung right. The right must be the better team. I started to really research the policies, politics and ideologies that I was supporting. I started to see through the online bullying and aggressive force that weaponizes the guilt of honest and good people. I started to see that many figures, politicians and policies on the right for what they were. Not the stories that I was told. 

For example, and this is a contentious one, Trump wasn’t as bad as people said he was. I’ll start off by saying that I do not like Trump as a person, but a lot of his policies helped more people in the United States, including minority groups and women than we had been told. Is he a good person? No, but his policies also helped Americans of all socioeconomic, racial and gendered backgrounds. It’s not black and white the way it’s painted (especially in Canada).

And here’s where your inner tribalism is getting ready to leap out and yell “trump supporter!” At me. Tribalism prevents us from seeing the truth, from having conversations, and from looking at hard facts and data.

I initially jumped teams. I swung from left to right as I learned more and more about right leaning politics. After I jumped teams (and here’s my mistake in life) started to vilify everything about the left. All the people in the left. All liberals are “this way.” And that was mistake. Probably a necessary part of my political and psychological evolution. But a mistake. To group people into tribes at all. To get sucked into the narrative of “this side good, this side bad.” It’s all nonsense. And it hurts everybody.

The truth is, both sides need each other. 

The truth is liberals are not good or bad people. Convservatives are not good or bad people. In the exact same way that all white people are not one way. All black, indigenous, gay or minority people, women and men….are not one way. 

Yet we’re seeing this more and more in a world that is supposed to be “inclusive, diverse and progressive.” It’s a lie. It’s more tribal than ever. Or maybe it’s the same amount of tribal as it’s ever been since the caveman days.

What’s happening now is your tribalism is bypassing your ability to have your own opinion as a unique individual. It’s stopping the conversation. It’s stopping us from looking at our own faults and strengths. We’re jumping to our teams opinions on things without evaluating the policies and opinions at all. 

We see a flag or pronouns in someone’s twitter bio and we form a certain opinion about them before we even read the thread. We learn about someone’s political stance, or religion or tribe and stamp them with “don’t listen” or “don’t like” without ever getting to hear them or know what they’re about. 

I’ve done it, and I’m no longer going to participate in it. Because if you fancy yourself a good person, a good person doesn’t act this way. A good person is kind and listens. A smart person knows that all people are never a certain way. If you’re putting your tribe above your ability to critically think, get to know someone or hear their story….you’re hurting yourself, you’re hurting society and you’re adding to the problem that hurts us all.

I’m learning a lot about people these days. I’m learning to set aside my own tribalism and assumptions and I’m getting to know PEOPLE one on one instead. It’s why I started the Sense Making Podcast. I interview doctors who are against the current public health measures that we’ve been told to adopt without question. I’ve interviewed gay men who are against the gender agendas being taught in school that we’ve been told to adopt without question. I’ve interview black women who are poking holes in critical race theory. I’m interviewing indigenous people who are questioning certain government social supports (and not for the reasons you think).

Because individual’s opinions matter and we need these people that are willing to stand up to group think and tribalism. 

So while my awakening about the leftist policies that I was supporting propelled me to the right tribe at first, what I’m now seeing and learning is the benefits and gaps of both. I’m recognizing the need to ask more questions and listen to both sides. I’m mostly seeing the necessary requirement not to vilify anyone for their membership to a tribe.

The truth is we need the left and the right to work together.

Conservatives want smaller government and to preserve traditions. They help prevent government overreach and emphasize personal responsibility without which people become complacent, unmotivated, unsuccessful and even unhappy and we are watching how the opposite (dependancy) plays out in states and provinces where we don’t hold people up to these standards. The conservatives emphasize structure, the economy, building strong moral societies and strong characters. They prefer cold hard facts over ideologies.. “how much does this cost” or “is this working, here is the data.”

Where do they fall short? They can become stagnant or unwilling to change. They require a nudge to progress in some areas at times.

At their best, conservatives create strong societies based on personal responsibility, sound economic policy, morality, logic and facts. At their worst convervatives can be closed minded, bigoted and lack vision for the future. 

 

Liberals love larger governments and are always progressing to an ideal. An ideal that may or may not exist in reality. The emphasize people and taking care of each other with strong social supports paid for the government. They are always evolving towards an ideal and seeking to do better in terms of interpersonal relationships and peoples feelings. We have benefited from socialist healthcare (but at the same time is this a flawed and crumpling system).  

The problem with liberalism is Ideologies may be put on a pedestal and don’t always work in real life.

Where does the progression stop? If we are working towards a good place why wouldn’t we stop somewhere along the line? Is it because that ideal doesn’t exist? 

 

At their best, liberals create societies were we seek to take care of one another based on a vision for the future that is idealistic. At their worst liberals can be idealistic and arrogant without strong policies and facts to back up their ideologies. They get angry when cornered with facts that poke holes in those ideologies and they often create policies that are not affordable or realistic. 

Both parties are capable of creating strong societies. Both have members that are rational, caring people seeking to make a better world. Both have a majority of members that are not extremists. 

And both have the capability to make society worse and have extremists that are closed minded, dangerous, power hungry and arrogant. 

They need each other. Liberals encourage conservatives to think outside the box, evolve with the people and create much needed social supports. Without the liberals, the conservatives may stay stuck in traditions that no longer serve the needs of society. They may overemphasize the economy or traditions at the expense of individual needs and progression.

Conservatives encourage liberals to look at the facts, logic and structures required to make policies that are effective, economical and practical. What’s idealistic is not always possible or beneficial to the whole. Without the conservatives, the liberals may continue their progression at a rate that is nonsensical and harmful negating traditions that are based in sound evidence and have a benefit for society as a whole. Governments would grow so big that they strong arm every aspect of society until personal responsibility is no longer a factor at all leading to dependant and ambivalent populations unable to care for themselves at all. 

 

My personal politics have changed, my ideas about policies have changed. I have a new way of voting currently but it’s based on policy not membership. I don’t identify as red or blue but as a critical thinker. The way I vote may change depending on the evidence in front of me. My opinion is still greater than my tribe. My identity is not wrapped up in my politics. My I AM is stronger than my membership in any group. And it’s the same courtesy that I’m trying to extend to others now. 

Because my I AM is stronger than my tribe, I can think clearly now. I am able to change my politics at any time should I need to. I am able to poke holes in theories that don’t make sense. I’m able to form my own opinion on issues without succumbing to group think, bullying or self censorship. I don’t care about “fitting in.” I just care about my integrity. 

And most importantly I don’t hate anyone, or vilify anyone for being a part of a certain tribe, political group, or religion. I am learning to see people as…..people. 

If you’re not there yet, you’re going to be surprised when you start to reframe things this way. You’re going to gain access to empathy. You’re going to learn things about your own tribe that should be questioned. You’re going to learn things about the “bad other” that will help you see their humanness and their goodness. You’re going to start seeing the world as a place where we live together as people, instead of the red vs the blues. 

And it’s a much better place to live. I believe that we can change the world if there are more people willing to see the world in this way. That it’s taking the easy way out to simply firmly sit behind the line with your tribe and vilify “the other.” That this is collective self sabotage in action. That stops conversation and effective policy change. That stops compassion, empathy and our own ability to grow as people. 

I am voting conservative these days. And it doesn’t mean I’m a good or bad person for doing so. It’s my decision based on policies, not tribalism. It doesn’t mean I agree with everything the right does. And it doesn’t mean  I hate everything the left does. In some areas I may lean left and some areas lean more right. And it might change later on in life. I like to think of myself as a liberal idealist and a convervative realist. 

I’m not “coming out” as a born again conservative. I’m coming out as an individual that is able to free themselves from tribalism. My opinions don’t require a membership or identity. And neither do yours. You can vote a certain way, you can be born into a certain culture or race, and you don’t have to hold tight to every opinion of the group. Your I AM can and should be stronger than your group identity and certainly your politics.  

When I woke up to the aggressive tribalism in my own left leaning group it sent me to the other team. My mistake was in continuing the exact the same behaviours but in a new tribe. Any old podcasts or writings may reflect that and I’m not taking them down. Because there isn’t a need to self censor and I think it’s important to show my humanness and evolution. 

I will continue to write political musings about my opinions on our current government in power, the individuals who are engaging in corrupt behaviour and my criticisms of the people in charge. But I don’t think certain things about liberals in general. I can separate the individual, from the party’s ideals and from the current individuals who are doing a great disservice to all party members in general. I have opinions about the people in charge and the policies that need questioning that don’t require tribalism, group think or a reluctance to hear people out who identify with the liberal party. I have a willingness to engage and stay neutral on the people. 

How do we eradicate tribalism?

 

Seek to see the humanness in people first. 

Don’t self censor your opinions but also ask how your higher self could show up to this conversation.

Catch yourself saying “All ____people are a certain way” (hint: you’re always wrong).

Ask yourself “what am I missing?” 

Ask yourself if you’re willing to be wrong.

Never erase a person because they show their identity first unless of course it’s an identity that openly professes to intentionally cause harm like in hate groups. And I mean actual hate groups, not the ridiculous name calling we’re seeing in tribal battles. 

And maybe extend the courtesy that the other person is at least 10% right 

I can honestly say now that I don’t think being a part of a certain political stance, race, culture, gender, sexual orientation or religion should ever be your I AM. It may be an important part of your uniqueness and maybe tribalism cannot be avoided, but I think this tribalism only hurts us all. The stronger your I AM and your ability to identify as a human being under God’s eyes first…..the less division and collective self sabotage we’ll see overall. 

My identity is stronger than any group membership and I would like to extend the same curtesy to you too.

With grace and grit,

Karla Joy Treadway