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Facing Ourselves
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It is said that we are most like our cousins, the Bonobo monkeys. If we look at films of Bonobo monkeys, what do we see? The good, the bad, and the ugly. We see them eating, defecating, copulating, sleeping. We see mothers caring for their young, monkeys grooming each other. We see aggression.

There was a green monkey study a long time ago. How would monkeys behave if one was “different”? To test this question, the testers painted one monkey green and put him back in the cage. Before they could stop the experiment, the other monkeys tore him to bits. He didn’t look like them; he was the enemy.

What is intrinsic in our nature is tribalism. We gravitate towards those like ourselves. We eschew what is not. There are three main tribes in the human race–Caucasian, African, Asian. There are, of course, many sub-tribes among them, but those are the three main tribes.

Our tendency to tribalism has resulted in wars, atrocities too horrifying to describe, and behaviors that we call inhuman and inhumane. These are words that have troubled me for years because these behaviors are all too human and all too related to how we’re wired.

The solution to our tribalism lies deep in our fabric. Genetics? Hormones? Something else? Some combination of these things? Until we do research and find out, we won’t be successful in re-aligning our tribalism to something more aligned with who we’d “like” to be, but aren’t.

In these days of serious anti-science, will we explore ourselves scientifically? Or will we continue to assign blame to the perpetrators and refuse to face the reality that we are all–without exception–capable of the same behaviors?

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