In this week of our celebration of the birth of our great nation, I wanted to choose a topic that would focus on sociological issues in a way that also encouraged everyone to look at how fortunate we are as a people to be Americans and consider the things happening in our society that have the potential to threaten what has made America a beacon of hope and liberty. This is the only discussion this week, so it’s a biggie!
It’s become impossible to have discussions, even with close friends and family, in which we disagree with eachother without becoming enemies. We unfollow or unfriend eachother over shared ideas. People are assaulted in public for wearing a hat or shirt that offends another person. The media plays on our fears by magnifying rare events as though they are common occurrences. Universities that were once the birthplace of new ideas and social discourse have become hostile to freedom of thought and enforcers of conformity. We are told that our thoughts should conform based on our skin color, sex or sexuality, and if they don’t you are stripped of your membership in that group (as if that’s even actually possible). I want us to consider together the larger consequences of these actions and developments in our society and what it means for us as we move forward.
In an article in The Atlantic (click here for the entire article), it is said,
“The causes of America’s resurgent tribalism are many. They include seismic demographic change, which has led to predictions that whites will lose their majority status within a few decades; declining social mobility and a growing class divide; and media that reward expressions of outrage. All of this has contributed to a climate in which every group in America—minorities and whites; conservatives and liberals; the working class and elites—feels under attack, pitted against the others not just for jobs and spoils, but for the right to define the nation’s identity. In these conditions, democracy devolves into a zero-sum competition, one in which parties succeed by stoking voters’ fears and appealing to their ugliest us-versus-them instincts.”
They also say,
“There are lessons here for both the left and the right. The right needs to recognize that making good on the Constitution’s promises requires much more than flag-waving. If millions of people believe that, because of their skin color or religion, they are not treated equally, how can they be expected to see the Constitution’s resounding principles as anything but hollow?
For its part, the left needs to rethink its scorched-earth approach to American history and ideals. Exposing injustice, past and present, is important, but there’s a world of difference between saying that America has repeatedly failed to live up to its constitutional principles and saying that those principles are lies or smoke screens for oppression. Washington and Jefferson were slave owners. They were also political visionaries who helped give birth to what would become the most inclusive form of governance in world history.”
1. What is an example of tribalism have you witnessed in society?
2. Find a news article that exemplifies that form of tribalism. Post a link to that article.
3. How is that kind of tribalism dangerous for our society?
4. What is the solution to that kind of tribalism?
5. Find one classmate who chose a similar form as you and discuss their answers with them. If you are found first, your discussion counts!
6. Find one classmate that chose a different form and discuss their answers with them. If you are found first, your discussion counts
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