Tribalism and the effects on fiction

It’s no secret there are deep divisions in American culture, especially politically.  Maybe it’s just my perception but it appears that everything is suddenly seen through the lens of politics.  While that isn’t to be completely unexpected, after all people read things through a worldview.  However, right now there appears to be less nuance and more, “believe like me or you’re evil.”  This is seeping into fiction.  Television, movies, and books are labeled with assumptions based on who ever is consuming the media and many times they are wrong.

I’m going to say up front that I do not adhere to the philosophies of either Republicans or Democrats.  I find them both deeply flawed for different reasons.  I feel this needs to be stated just in case someone attempts to accuse me of taking sides, since reading into things is a common practice on the internet.  Now that that’s out of the way, both parties have built of tribalism around them, while painting the other side as evil.  Yes, evil.  Not misinformed, not simply disagreeing on important issues, no evil.  The chasm between Liberalism and Conservatism has grown so much that neither side can even agree on the basics.  Around politicians that craft these ideas there is the rest of the country who mostly either adheres to one side or the other.

This tribalism doesn’t end at the polls or while determining which candidate to vote for.  It often overflows into media.  Readers start to have a visceral reaction to books because there are perceived ideas from “the other side” while authors cave to pressure to pander to their audience and fall into the trap of becoming too political with their works.  Tensions have been rising, especially after the 2016 election, and continue to escalate, almost as if people are looking to fight with those who believe differently.

In my next post I will continue this topic.  For now, I think all of us need to consider the implications of tribalism and vilifying those who believe differently.

Another type of rare love

It is often said that true love is rare.  Many people find romantic love, but making it last is difficult, especially to one person for the rest of our lives.  In a culture where changing relationships is common practice, this is especially true.  However, I hardly see posts, songs, or television shows about other types of rare love, particularly true friendship.

In grade school most of us had at least one friend, most had a handful to several.  However, as hormones begin to fly, and kids grow into adults and discover who they are, people change along with their friendships.  I was a docile kid, the stereotypical doormat.  I let people say and do what they wanted to me and just fume to myself, this was the case all the way up until a few short years ago.  I’m shy and introverted and so I spent quite a bit of time alone, but still needed friends.  In fact, quality friendships are as important to me as family.

Like a lot of millennials, I grew up watching Boy Meets World and wanted desperately to have the kind of friendship that Cory and Shawn had.  I had a couple friendships like that, but they did not run as deep or last as long as I had hoped.  In some cases, it was a blessing to no longer be close with as they were mentally abusive, and a few were even bullies.  With other people we are separated by distance but keep in contact as much as adulthood allows.

Ultimately, I learned that a good, solid friendship is hard to come by.  In fact I would argue it is just as difficult to find as romantic love.  Friends come and go, but it is rare to find someone who wishes to be invested in your life.  This is not to say that I don’t have wonderful friends, or have t found the friendship I was looking for, just that life has taught me just how valuable it is.  It you have a best fried That is like a sibling, then you are blessed, cherish them.

Emotions or Rationality?

In our era of skepticism, cold, unadulterated rationality is often valued.  Science has lifted the curtain on certain superstitions and wives’ tales.  Most people in the modern western world strive to be rational, and scientific.  We don’t want to be like our ancestors that believed diseases were cause by curses.  Most of the time we try to bring that rationality into our everyday lives, particularly our relationships.  But just how rational are we as a species?  Everyone knows that humans are biased, yet there is more to it than that.  I believe people are emotional first and rational second.

Whether we realized it or not, we are emotionally invested into the world around us.  I theorize that our emotional connections to things run far deeper than any of us realize.  Emotions are what drive us, what connects us to our beliefs, I wager far more than any evidence or rationality.  Emotions are not bad things and how they intertwine with our beliefs can be beneficial, for example it can drive us to learn why we believe what we believe.  Rationality too can intermingle with emotion and help us see whether we believe something simply because we want to or if there is evidence to support it.

Emotion, dare I say, contributes to our openness and willingness to accept rational thinking and beliefs.  If we have a strong emotional attachment to the truth, we I’ll search for it ourselves, despite what common consensus may say.  Therefore, being emotional beings isn’t always a bad thing, but I feel it is something we must be aware of.

Shadow and Fire Reading

This is a fictional short story I wrote and narrated.  If you are feeling generous you can listen to it on YouTube and follow me on there too.  You can watch it here. Otherwise the audio is below.  This is something new I wanted to try and my goal is to do a story narration every 1-2 weeks.

Assumptions

We are all guilty of it.  Most of the time we are unaware of the snap judgements we make about people and our settings.  While judgement has an often-negative connotation, most judgements are benign such as which clothes we wear, and the best way to start our day.  Others however, are more impactful and can deeply harm our relationships with others.  We all know assumptions, especially negative ones, are not healthy, yet we continue to make judgements based on nothing more than our presumptions.

One of the main themes in Crystal Moon is that we should always be careful what sort of conclusions we come to, especially in marriage.  It is a part of human nature to assume the worst, especially if there is an argument or a relationship hasn’t been going well.  Sometimes there are other factors such as a bad mood, alcohol, or simply an inability to empathize with another person.

Usually, the more negative assumptions we have about a person, the more wrong we are.  There are of course exceptions, toxic people do exist and they are more common than we would like to believe.  Everyone that has gone to school knows that first hand, and perhaps when we become adults we are on guard against such toxicity.  It is easier to assume the worst and be on the defensive then it is to be vulnerable, especially opening ourselves to someone who will betray that trust in the future.

Most of the time negative assumptions do nothing more than get us into trouble, especially if we lash out first before discussing them.  I have come to believe that people are more emotional than rational, especially when they are fired up.  When we are upset and believe another person has wronged us, in that moment we want to fight, and more importantly win.  This is the sort of mess the main characters find themselves in.  Both the husband and wife come to conclusions about one another, and instead of discussing their fears and concerns, the real issue at hand continues to spiral out of control.  When this happens in fiction it creates plot, but in real life it can cause irreparable damage.  When we are accused of doing or feeling something we aren’t guilty of, we feel angry, that there had been an injustice done upon us. May we learn from characters in fiction and be better than that, remembering how it feels to be on the receiving end of untrue assumptions.