Are you like me?

One of the aspects of my faith that I have the most difficulty with is accepting other people regardless of where they are. As a human, I like to hang with people like me. This is understandable, as tribalism exists in the world as an artifact of the world we have lived in for the last 10,000 years.

And yet, UUism calls me to be accepting of others and to encourage others in their spiritual growth. How can I be tribal and accepting of others at the same time? I think a big part of that practice is being honest with yourself about the biases you may have. I value thoughtfulness and intelligence highly. I do not place as much value on art and entertainment. It is not that I don’t like those things, but someone who orients their life around art make it immediately more difficult for me to find similarities and to enjoy their company.

The best thing I’ve found in these situations is to keep plumbing for commonality. As awkward as tribalism can be, it’s also a fantastic tool to build affinity for other people. If you can intentionally try to build a tribe with strangers, before you know it they are no longer a stranger and instead part of a new tribe that you just created. Maybe they have kids. I have kids and know that world all too well. Perhaps they have a Mormon grandmother who is difficult to be around :) Yet another opportunity to build the community that was missing before.

The trick is not to disavow the aspects of our human psychology that make us able to accept others, but use them to our advantage to grow our tribe larger, or at least increase the number of small tribes we’re a part of.