Tribalism Vs Survivalism

“Categorize at our peril”
From different sections of Science to Different Nationalities, the tribal instinct of human beings makes sure all aspects of human and planetary existence are chopped and diced into regimented categories. Walls are erected between different species, different subjects and different ‘types’ of people.

I am not yet a centre for great knowledge and wisdom, but i have i rough idea of why these segregation’s emerge in so many areas of life.
1. For security and placement.
2. For a more linear/straightforward approach to teaching and learning.
3. To satisfy our tribal instincts, promoting feelings of superiority to all outsiders/non-believers.

Is tribalism such a bad thing?
It can offer a sense of belonging, security, enjoyment and even love to an individual. But is tribalism needed for these qualities? are these ‘needs’ magnified by segregation’s?.
If our little Towns were viewed from one page of a 2 dimensional book layout it would be arguable whether tribalism is such a bad thing, “nothing seems to be wrong at all, what’s all the fuss about?”.

Page City

But if the pages of the book became a fold-out leaflet or map -where everything was part of one – the picture would look drastically different.


Now it is clear that our safe little towns are not on a separate page to the rest of the World. Through our blinkered eyes and tribal minds, we were blind to see the bigger picture. If there is tension somewhere, we won’t be immune on our page.

Do tribal instincts hamper our chances of survival and progression as a species?.
Well – in the wake of potential global catastrophes brought on by climate change – yes i believe so. I see tribalism as a very important threat to civilization – not just because of possible warfare in a time of limited resources – but because our refusal to see the World and its people as a whole and not in segregation’s, makes us so much more vulnerable and immobile to Global scale problems.
The diagram below show a way to see a interconnected World – a diagram deeply influenced by the ‘Gaia theory’. a Theory that See’s the Earth being one self regulating Super organism.


It seems only natural for humans to react to something once it has already happened. For example, here i am at work desperately trying to gain information for these ideas, whilst not paying full attention to the imminent threats posed by visitors onto our sculptures.
In many cases a swift but delayed reaction is enough so solve the problem, but i seriously doubt that this case would apply once the threats posed by climate change become a reality. A war between two countries is relatively small and there is room for manoeuvre and escape, however mankind is rooted to the Earth, and if the Earth reacted nastily we would have nowhere to run or hide.

The revenge of a discarded friend (2007)

We cannot see the bigger picture, we only see the small things that move at a speed we can observe – We people are easily stirred and angered by petty news stories, we are likely to not pay attention to a story on global warming. The more i read up on the Gaia hypothesis the more my head fills with images, one’s where the Universe may just function like a human body but on a much larger scale, just like the little cells do in our own bodies.

I have been obsessively reading up on James lovelock’s Gaia theory – i find it fascinating – As i find the theory very plausible, and on a personal level it as re-opened the door of science to me – one i never thought i could access again, after my appalling High School results.
Foolish as i may be for taking a theory so seriously – on a artistic field – it as certainly given me plenty of ideas and images of universal sizes, scaled down to goldfish bowl size. However a little bit of irrational emotion is probably to be expected, Seen as I’m still ‘classed’ as an artist and stuck in my artistic tribe.

However there is a few little conclusions i have come to, that i want to explain, points that i feel need to be addressed if we – in the wake on global warming – are to change.
These conclusions are a drop in the Ocean non the scale of everything, but because these ideas are of a circular interconnected nature, they are small but also massive.

Idea 1

It wouldn’t be possible to resume our beliefs that we are superior to every other thing on this planet. We have added a great attribution to life – through our mental awareness and inventiveness -but it doesn’t make us anymore vital than any of life form.

Humans deluded


The reality

It is understandable that creationists strongly defend the view that the Earth is no more than 4,000 years old. The shorter length of time that life has been in existence, the more significant the presence of an individual human is. A 70 year life on a 4,000 year old Earth is no longer a spec on the scale of time, and therefore seems so much more important. To lose our feelings of self-importance would be to lose our sense of superiority over everything else. Maybe if science went ‘full circle’, connected with spirituality, and abandoned the segregation, it would be possible for humans to embrace a different picture of their sense of belonging.

Idea 2

I believe the National curriculum – the education system – should be completely re-structured (or to put it bluntly – demolished) into a more organic system of learning. All subjects should meet, they should all complement each other.

Not all lessons can be taught in a linear way. It seems absurd to place the categorization of subjects next to the segregation’s of tribalism, but i feel the two work in the same way, creating a blinkered view of the World. They both also played a part in my School days, the fact i never really found my place, and the fact that i struggled in lessons such as science. How did somebody who could name all the Geological eras from back to front, end up getting 4 out of 60 for a mock exam?. If it was taught in a more organic way, i am sure i would have done better.
Now i find Science interesting again, an interest i have found through art – the opposite of Science in a world of categorizations. Surely these current methods of learning encourage a mind to think in narrow tunnels, and i am glad i went to art school, i feel it saved me from my School-taught mentality.

To keep my pessimism at bay, i have to live with at least a small amount of hope, that the human race can survive. Even if life carried on after, what a shame it would be if no living thing could ever reflect upon it in the way people can. However i have never been one for accepting that well used saying “that’s just the way it is”. rules that currently smother the collective mindset of humanity can never ever be permanent, just like no rock on Earth, is eternally immune from erosion. From that dust new things will grow and so new ways are possible. Surely anything that can be thought up inside a brain of a mortal being is possible at some time and some place somewhere.

About John Ledger

A visual Artist, eternal meanderer and obsessive self-reflector by nature, who can’t help but try to interpret everything from within the tide of society. His works predominantly take the form of large scale ballpoint pen landscape drawings and map-making as social/psychological note-making. They are slowly-accumulating responses to crises inflicted upon the self in the perplexing, fearful, empty, and often personality-erasing human world.

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