Dr. Forbush Thinks

Look at the world through the eyes of Dr. Forbush. He leads you through politics, religion and science asking questions and attempting to answer them....

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Location: California, United States

Friday, December 21, 2007

Jesus and the Devil Are Brothers

I read that Mike Huckabee, a Southern Baptist minister and one-time governor of Arkansas, asserted that Mitt Romney wasn’t a viable presidential candidate because he believed that Jesus and the Devil were brothers. Why else would he make such a statement if he wasn’t trying to allude to this “crazy” idea. But, the fact is that religions of every strip are filled with crazy ideas and the followers of these religions are told that the ideas are crazy, but if one has faith and believes the crazy ideas then they will be saved.

When I read about Mike Huckabee’s statement I laughed. I was thinking about all the “crazy” ideas that the Baptists believe. In fact I thought about the “crazy” idea that all Christians have that Jesus was born of a virgin, died and rose from the dead. How is this idea not “crazy?” In fact there is a Yiddish idiom for a crazy idea that refers to the craziness of someone rising from the dead. Anyone can make fun of the crazy ideas that anyone else’s religion professes. This is because if you need to have faith to believe it, then it is impossible to prove that it is true by its very nature.

But, then again I thought about the idea that Mike Huchabee spouted off as being so “crazy.” I asked myself, Didn’t God create all of the angels? If they exist, and Christians believe that they do, then God must have created them, right? And, wasn’t Satan one of the angels, the rebellious one? So, I would assume that since God created the angels and Satan was an angel I would suggest that God created Satan. And since God created Satan I would presume that we could say that God was Satan’s father. It was after all that Free Will was responsible for Satan to choose to turn away from God. This of course is the same Free Will that makes us responsible for turning away from God.

So, if Satan’s father was God. And, we already know that Christians believe that Jesus’ father is God then Jesus and Satan actually share the same father. And, in most cultures when to people share the same father they are siblings. I am still wondering what they “crazy” part of Mormon belief would be on this fact. Is it that Jesus and Satan don’t share the same male gender? This could be the issue, after all angels don’t have a gender in Christian theology, right? If they would have a gender, then they might have sex, and that would just be “crazy.” Right?!!!

So, I guess I now understand why the Baptists would think that the idea that Jesus and Satan were brothers would just be too crazy and we shouldn’t have a loony in the White House that would believe such craziness. But, then again we have a crazy person in the White House that believes that a nuclear war might be a good thing because it might bring Jesus back to Earth a wee bit sooner.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Thursday, December 20, 2007


My personal experience with the our local Schools fluctuates from extremely good to extremely bad. We have lived in our town since 1998 and my four children have attended the public schools since we moved here. Over those nine years we have had the opportunity to work with some outstanding teachers and principals that have fostered enormous successes in my children’s education. Unfortunately we have also experienced some horribly negligent teachers and principals that seem to be going through the motions in order to pick up a paycheck each payday.

I could go into the details of each and every experience that we have had throughout the last nine years, but that would be of little use and foster little progress. In fact, two of the problems that we have dealt with over these years will never be corrected because the people have already died from diseases related to their alcohol problems. Unfortunately when we did confront these problems and bring them to the attention of those delegated with the responsibility our cries fell on deaf ears.

This time we have a new set of teachers and administrators and a new problem. We have seen this all before and it saddens me greatly. I personally don’t understand the resistance of the administration to effect change and fix these problems. But, as we have seen this all before we know exactly how this will play out. It is as if there is a script and every person plays their role and each time nothing is done the person lies about how they will be sure to look into the problem. Since the politics of the personal relationships is kept behind closed doors under the guise of protecting a alleged suspect I will not name names in this letter. I would surely provide further information to anyone who would talk to me, but all of the administrators involved already know the facts and the problems, they have just chosen to do nothing about it.

In an attempt to bring discussion and light onto this subject I would rather like to talk in generalities as a matter of furthering public discourse without pointing fingers and making accusations. The people who are guilty of stonewalling already know who they are. The teachers who choose to go through the motions without doing their jobs already know who they are. The solution to the problem is not to hide the fact that there are poor teachers and administrators in our schools, but instead to inform them that we are watching and they should do their jobs. Unfortunately most of these cases only involve a few people each year. The few people that are effected know that the school year will eventually end and the new school year is likely to provide them with one of the many very good teachers that we have in these schools. What the public needs is a way to bring attention to these problems and have them solved in a reasonable and effective way.

Now that I have explained the situation in generalities I will be a bit more specific. There is a teacher in a our local school that one of my children has for a class. The teacher has basically refused to teach in almost any definition of the term. Instead the teacher has the students attempt to teach themselves by reading their textbook to themselves and take notes. The teacher occasionally administers a test of the subject matter that she copies off of the Internet. The tests from the Internet do not correspond to the textbook material, because the tests from online actually come from another textbook that covers the same material with different details. My child has complained to counselors and the different levels of administration. The one time that an evaluator came into the classroom to evaluate the teacher the teacher conducted the class more closely to a traditional discussion style class. Obviously the teacher knows what she is doing would be frowned upon. However, the behavior continues and even with the complaints to the administration by approximately half of the students in the class. The students have signed a petition and presented it to the administration, but the administration requires each case to be dealt with individually and not en masse. The students continue to bring the issue to the administration with no results. Finally during the last meeting with the administrator the students were told the matter was already brought to their attention. When the students asked what was going to be done the administrator explained that nothing was needed to be done.

So, the sad situation that we have in the our local schools is portrayed in this example. The administration complains that they want the students to excel in academics. They publicly claim that they have hired the best teachers. And, they have hired some very good teachers. Unfortunately they have also hired some very poor teachers that should be removed from their responsibilities. We should not be paying teachers to shop online while the students outline the chapters in their textbooks during class time. The administration doesn’t want to know about the failures. Perhaps they want to claim ignorance. Perhaps they are too lazy to fix the problems in the schools. Perhaps the law ties their hands and they really can’t do anything about this. There are solutions to every one of these problems. We can fire the administrators that are too lazy or incompetent. And, if the laws are in the way, then we have an obligation to change the laws. The students deserve it and our future society is built on the education of these students.


a concerned parent of a concerned student


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Friday, December 14, 2007


The enemy of Corporate Capitalists is regulation. The freedom to do whatever needs to be done to make a buck is the most efficient way to make that buck. Regulations, by the very nature, put a roadblock into that process. On the other hand, the goal of regulation is to protect the weak that do not have the strength to fight someone who chooses an efficient way of making money that also damages the society. Regulation is by its very nature a method to prevent efficiency.

My mother used to always say that moderation is the key to life. Obviously moderation does not rank high on the agenda of modern American society. People rush to embrace the latest fad, and then they drop it and rush on to the next fad a month later. There is no moderation in this behavior.

With regulations it is a similar love - hate relationship. People want to fix a problem and fix it “real good.” This results in regulations that don’t just fix a problem, they slam the problem real hard. Sometimes these slams can really hurt the efficiency of the process, and force capitalists to create new ways to make the process work. On the other hand, capitalists can permanently see the easiest solution is to remove the existing regulations to make the process work more easily. For the benefit of society lawmakers need to play the role of moderator of the regulations.

Unfortunately lawmakers are paid by campaign contributions from groups on both sides of the regulations divide. The result of this is that we never have a group of moderate lawmakers that realize the necessity of regulation as well as the danger of over regulation. The extremists populate the government and proudly push their agenda.

To make matters worse, the enforcement of regulations is the key to making them work. Enforcement is the jurisdiction of the executive branch of government. For the most part the enforcement of regulations can easily be curtailed by funding cuts. If there are no people to inspect and enforce regulations, the result is a policy that is the same as if there were no regulations at all. If no one follows up on a report of violations, then the criminal gets away with the crime. If the people given the duty to enforce the laws are selected because of their incompetence, the result again will be little enforcement of the laws. The truth is that it is difficult to enforce these laws even when we have competent people trying to enforce the laws.

Regulations are meant to protect society.

Yesterday I was listening to a right wing radio station. A caller was complaining that China was poisoning our children. It is quite understandable that we should be concerned with lead or other toxins in our products. One way to fight this is to require regulations. But, even more importantly we need to enforce regulations that protect us. The right wing talk show host pointed out that the government should not be required to do this job. And, we shouldn’t have regulations placed on our corporations, because that would be too costly for our American companies who distribute goods that are manufactured in China. I began to wonder what this guy was going to suggest to protect our society.

I was not only surprised, but shocked when the right wing radio talk show host suggested that we should let market forces protect America. If people get injured or die from poorly made products manufactured in China, then Americans will vote with their wallets and stop buying the poison. I wish I knew who this guy was, but the radio began to fade out while I was listening. Of course, I thought to myself, the market will fix all of our problems, even if a few people need to die in the process.

I began to think about Europe. Europe has an enormously complex set of regulations. I know a few of these regulations because I have designed products to be sold in Europe. The reason that Europe came to the conclusion that it needed these regulations was because Europe wanted to expand its market. It wanted regulations in one country to match regulations in another country. Obviously if one country had lax regulations it could manufacture less safe products at a cheaper price, just like China is doing in today. But, the US does not have a uniform set of regulations in which a product is marked as compiling with. It isn’t until a harm is found before a product is forced to be taken off the market.

What is the difference between Europe and the USA that makes for the differences in this attitude toward regulation? Why is the US government so careless about the potential problems with new products, while the European governments care about potential harms? I would suggest that the main difference is that Europe actually has a broad health care system. So, if there are widespread health problems caused by a defective product, then the government will end up paying the cost. The government is thereby motivated to prevent harms to society. (This sounds a lot like letting the market solve the problem.) Therefore the governments are motivated to create regulations that protect the people. And, the government is also motivated to enforce those regulations. Isn’t it wonderful when problems are left to the market?

So, I would suggest that Universal Health Care would not only help get health care to those who can not afford it, but it actually motivates the government to protect the people from things like toxins in our toys, and food. It might cost a little more, but what is the cost of your health? Isn’t there an old saying that asks: “If you haven't got your health, then you haven't got anything.” Surely a corporate capitalist can understand that little saying.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Terror in America

The current administration position is that waterboarding is not torture. Waterboarding is merely a method for extracting information from a terrorist. Am I the only person confused here?

Waterboarding is a method of making a suspect believe that he is about to die by drowning. The panic induced will apparently make a suspect give up everything he knows because he is afraid to die. Let me get this straight, a terrorist is a person who is prepared to strap a bomb on and blow himself up in a crowded market place or mall. Or a terrorist is a person who is willing to take control of a plane and fly it into building to kill thousands of people. So, somehow the fear of drowning will somehow make him give up all his secrets. What the Hell are they smoking over at the CIA? Or, maybe they are delving into the truth drugs that they are administering to their suspects.

But, let us suppose that there are some terrorist wimps that are afraid of drowning. Is waterboarding torture? The Bush administration has claimed that since there wasn’t any organ failure or permanent damage waterboarding certainly could not qualify as torture. Obviously John McCain, a GOP presidential candidate who claims to have been tortured in Vietnam wasn’t really tortured at all. Obviously whatever the Vietcong had done to John, it wasn’t torture because his organs didn’t fail and he didn’t die.

Actually with this crazy idea that organ failure is the qualification for something to be torture, there have been very few actual cases of torture through out the history of mankind. Maybe drawing and quartering someone might qualify. But, its kind of tough to get information from them afterward. In fact, name a type of torture where we have organ failure that will result in getting information from a terrorist. Maybe we should be doing Chinese water torture, which isn’t really torture at all regardless of the misnomer. We should be sticking needles under the suspects fingernails, before we cut them off. If we stop the bleeding there surely won’t be any organ failure. The administration would surely allow this type of persuasive technique. Maybe the Americans could invent a new type of pain inducement that could acquire the new name of Amurrican Pain Torture, without actually being torture at all if we can keep those vital organs functioning.

The problem however is that if the terrorists actually live and the War on Terror is actually won by America as we all truly pray for every day, then what will happen next? Will the information about the American pain techniques escape into the world either by those causing the pain or by those freed because the pain proved their innocence. Even with all of the secrecy of these clandestine operations I am sure that the agencies would like the rumors of “Amurrican Pain Torture” would be allowed to escape in the hope that this would frighten the wimpy terrorists into leaving their terrorist ways. After all, this is why we still have the death penalty in this country. The authorities believe the myth that potential murders weigh the potential consequences of a murder before they commit the crime. Surely they would also believe that these rumors would also scare off the terrorists that would like to strap on a suicide bomb as well.

Does anyone follow these arguments? It seems like no one has actually followed any of these arguments to the obvious conclusions. Obviously torture is not going to persuade someone who is convinced that their mission is to die for a noble cause. In fact, American culture praises our soldiers that have done the same - died in battle, died defending a hill, a fort, or a square foot of sovereign territory. American culture also praises those who have withstood enemy torture by repeatedly giving only name rank and serial number. Surely the terrorists who strap on suicide vests have a similar if not stronger social and cultural pressure. And, surely the pride of American moral culture that we don’t torture people is a strong statement that America is different. We believe in freedom and liberty. Obviously the strength of this argument has fallen to the side under the fear of terrorism. After all, the terrorists can not destroy our society. They don’t have enough force to actually make us change our culture or ideas. The only power they have is terror, hence the name. They believe that fear will make people act in ways to their liking. And, what do the terrorists want? They want to create a society where the government has a great deal of control over its society. They want a society where the government can know everything that is happening and be assured that people are following all of the rules. They want a society where they can find the opposition and take care of them at a moments notice. They want a society in which torture is a valid method of information retrieval. And, with the actions of the Bush administration in the wake of the 9/11/2001 attacks the terrorists have been able to use terror to make us take the first steps in that direction.
Who says that terrorism doesn’t work in America?


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I was listening to a lecture yesterday by an expert on teenagers. He concentrated on the dangers that teenagers face as the mature. He was telling the audience about the dangers of drugs and alcohol when he took a moment to explain why some people become addicted to drugs and alcohol more easily than others. Obviously some drugs manifest in physical addictions, while other drugs manifest in psychological additions. At one time I recall being told that some people are more susceptible to psychological additions, and these people were said to have addictive personalities. Yesterday, the speaker went into a little bit more detail about this addictive personality.

The speaker yesterday spoke about obsessive behavior. He told us how a person with and obsessive personality has a higher probability of becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol. For example, an obsessive person might become obsessed with a multitude of different things before they even try alcohol. They might become obsessed with things that are overall very positive, or overall very negative. At some point along the way a person might realize that an obsession has taken over his or her life. And, because the obsession is an obsession the person is unable to make a break with the obsession. Obsession is a selfish behavior, because the obsession has a higher priority than any other issue or relationship in the person’s life. In many cases the inability to control obsession results in embarrassment in minor cases and self-hatred in the worst cases. At some point these feelings of self-loathing lead to self-medicating with drugs or alcohol in an attempt to “feel better.”

Once the person with the obsessive personality has self-medicated it isn’t long before self-medication itself becomes an obsession.

The speaker told us about obsession and insecurity and fear drive obsessions. Immediately I began to think about the authoritative personality that I wrote about on Friday. It seems that fear and insecurity also feed the authoritative personality. In fact, as I considered the authoritative personality and the obsessive personality I realized the authoritative personality might just be a form of the obsessive personality.

Think of the goal of the authoritarian. They tend to seek order and control. Obsessive personalities have very little control over their obsessions and they eventually seek to control them. An obsessive person will be tempted when he his trying to fight an obsession. An authoritarian personality makes rules and punishments in order to dissuade himself from the temptation. Ambiguity in rules lead to temptations. Ambiguity makes it more difficult to fight an obsession. A rigid framework with all the answers laid out for the obsessive person tries to take away the ambiguity, the free time and wishfully the temptation. But, the reality is that only the obsessive person can make the obsession go away by realizing that no obsession can be the answer.

Many groups tend to offer replacement obsessions as a solution. And, authoritarian frameworks offer a replacement obsession. An obsessive person will easily fit into a framework with a firm unambiguous set of rules and regulations. An obsessive person will seek comfort and security in continuously following these rules and regulations. An obsessive person would also find compulsion in making sure that every other member of the group is also following the rules and regulations. A large network of these obsessed people continuously following the rules and regulations and furthermore enforcing them results in a self-regulating structure provide comfort and security for its obsessive members. However, anyone from outside the structure is a threat to this security.

The fear of abandonment is high on the list of potentially destructive threats to the network. If members abandon the group the group shrinks and potentially withers. Those who abandon the group might prove that survival without the group is possible and perhaps even better. This image might lead to the unthinkable concept that the group is not the salvation of the members.

So, it seems reasonable to suggest that joining a authoritarian cult might be a response of an obsessive personality. Then again many of the things we do are responses to our natural tendency for obsession. I might even suggest that writing this very blog is an obsession of sorts. Waking up at 5:00 AM to go work out every morning is an obsession. Eating breakfast every morning and dinner every evening are equally obsessions. But, the point is that some obsessions are healthy and some obsessions are unhealthy and sometimes even dangerous. All of this goes back to free choice and freedom to choose “good” obsessions and avoid the unhealthy ones.

How do we determine which obsessions are healthy and which obsessions are unhealthy? I would suggest that the subject of the obsession would be one consideration. And, the intensity of the obsession is the other. For example, eating breakfast every day is a healthier obsession than drinking your lunch every day. However, eating 3,000 calories for breakfast every day isn’t healthy either. Similarly following rules and regulations are normally considered a wise practice. Even the occasional reminder to a passerby might help remind someone of the rules they may not be thinking about. However, demanding laws that take away a person’s freedom and liberty might be pushing the limits, like gun control or abortion rights. The obsession that some people have for controlling others is certainly an obsession that needs to be constrained.

The message here is simple. Obsessions in general are not horrid in themselves. Some people tend to have obsessive personalities that are prone to obsessive behavior. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If the obsessions that one chooses is a healthy moderated obsession it could be a good thing. However, if a person chooses unhealthy obsessions, it could harm the person, and perhaps it could harm our society.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Friday, December 07, 2007

John Dean

I was listening to a talk by John Dean the other day. John Dean is a Goldwater Republican and a member of the Nixon administration. He was also the person who helped to bring down the Nixon administration by his truthful testimony about the abuse of power in the Nixon administration. John Dean should be celebrated as an American hero at some future time. He continues to be a conservative, and he continues to find the abuse of power in government disgusting.

John Dean has now written several books criticizing the Bush administration. “Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush” makes the argument that the Bush administration has abused power in a more extreme manner than the Nixon administration, which was the gold standard in corruption up until the Bush administration took power.

In “Conservatives Without Conscience” John Dean tells us about the authoritarian personality. The authoritarian personality marks the type of person that is attracted to organizations like the Nazi Party. It turns out that the Republican Party is littered with people who fit this very same authoritarian personality type. These are people who not only go along with the flow and follow their leaders without question, they believe that it is the most efficient way to accomplish what they want to get out of the party. This attraction of authoritarian personality types to the Republican Party explains why the two major political parties operate in such different ways. The Republicans expect that they will receive commands from their leadership and carry out those orders, while Democrats continue to debate policy even after decisions have been made.

In his latest book, “Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches” John Dean goes into the damage done by the Republicans so far. So much of the destruction has taken place off the radar screen in the back offices. If the media doesn’t report on this the public doesn’t know what is happening. And, if the public doesn’t know what is happening then the public will continue to re-elect these people. And, the worst thing that has happened is that every time any aspect of this destruction comes to light the response from the perpetrators and their supports mocks the evidence and the person who presents it as if they are crazy loonies wearing tin foil hats and claims the apocalypse is around the corner. This in itself is quite ironic when we consider who makes these claims and echoes them through the blogosphere.

John Dean lays out a frightening case for how two groups of extremists have hijacked the Republican Party and proceeded to hijack the US government. These people operate on authoritarian principles of control, that frighteningly enough many people actually desire. The leaders of the Republican Party desire the ease in which goals can be accomplished when everyone follows the orders of the leadership. This is why it was so easy for the President to get his legislation through congress without any debate. And, the president never felt impelled to use his veto much until the Democrats began to question his authority.

The pessimistic view of this is that the Republicans will not give up easily. If they manage to take control again they will continue to press for more and more authoritarian rule until they feel some push back. If the public remains oblivious and apathetic we will continue to lose our freedoms and liberty. And as we lose freedom and liberty it will become more difficult to win them back. If anyone doubts the resolve of these people just look at the case of Christine Comer, the former director of science in Texas. She was fired after she forwarded an e-mail message on a talk about evolution and creationism. Even the way is which her supervisors characterize the “firing” as a “resignation” is a re-writing of the facts. Ms. Comer had no intention of leaving her post, as I heard her interview on NPR.

When authoritarian personalities don’t get what they want they continue to push the envelope, game the system and eventually cheat the system. These people already know that there is only one correct solution and all the others are invalid. A mind set like this assures destruction of society as we know it. Either the authoritarians win and change society, or they lose and war breaks out with those who disagree with them.

We are currently in a hopeful moment where the Democrats have been able to put some breaks to the destruction the Republicans have begun. However, if these people win again the destruction will continue. John Dean offers some clues in his books as to how we should battle back against, not Republicans, but the personality of these authoritarians.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Tribalism and the Evolution of Democracy

As we take a moment from time to time to stop and look around at the situation we live in we often come to the conclusion that we understand the world. Well, actually most of us don’t take the time to actually pay attention to the details of the world around us. And, many of us don’t really understand what we do take the time to observe. So, what really happens for most of us is that we hear things in passing and we jump to conclusions based on some of those ideas. And, one of those things that we have come to accept as reality is the political division of the world into about 200 different countries. Unfortunately most of us don’t really have a clue as to how and why the world is in this current situation. And, even more importantly - we have no idea as to how the world is evolving.

If we begin way back at the beginning of history... Actually if we start before history… Moreover, we should begin before man himself evolved into man. Lets look at primate for an example.

If you recall Dian Fossey’s work, she learned that Gorilla’s live in misty places. And, she also learned that Gorilla’s have social structure. Gorilla’s do not form nations, but they do form bands of chums that benefit from sharing the same goals and objectives. It turn’s out that these bands of chums will certainly find other bands of chums as threat to their existence.

So, it should be easy to understand that tribal structure most likely has existed as the status quo as human beings evolved. Human beings tend to band together as a method to protect themselves from other tribes that have banded together to protect themselves. The first tribes most likely were based on groups of human beings living in the same area and were most likely related. Extended families were the first natural tribes. This served the biological function of protecting familial DNA as it was passed down to the next generation.

Some tribes naturally grew in size while other tribes stagnated in size or decreased in size for many reasons. Perhaps some tribes could acquire a surplus of resources. Perhaps some tribes could acquire a surplus of men or women. At some point one tribe will seek resources from another tribe. A tribe could decide to use force to take the resources that it needs for survival. Or, certainly some tribes could come to an agreement in which two or more tribes would merge and pool their resources. And, a larger tribe would certainly be viewed as a larger threat to other smaller tribes in the neighborhood.

Common languages and customs tended to tie these different tribes together, and the differences that certainly existed tended to push tribes apart. Clearly as time progressed tribes grew larger and occupied larger regions. Tribes acquire identity from their leaders. Tribal leaders under continuous pressure to prepare for war. Either your resources run low and then you need to attack other tribes to survive, or other tribes attack you for your resources and you need to defend yourself. Conflict is a continuous way of life, even when no one desires that conflict. Everyone wins when peace is made, unless that peace requires surrender of your tribal identity.

When mergers of tribes are handled carefully everyone is happy that the new bigger tribe shares in the identity of the new tribe as being a continuation of the old tribe. The trick of a tribal merger is to make the psychological argument that the old tribes continue on in the new tribe.

Tribes are people and each person bring new ideas to the tribe. Some of those ideas are a propagation of the ideas of language, stories, myths and history. Those cultural things define a tribe. A tribe is a living thing that continually renews itself. A tribe has a short term memory and a long term memory. The short term memory of a tribe exists in an individual member of the tribe. The long term memory of a tribe are the memories that are passed down from one individual to the next. When two tribes merge some of those long term memories die while others live on. Before the birth of writing many cultures just died and could never be reborn.

If we begin to think of tribes as living things that can live and die and have memory we need to ask the question - What makes a tribe successful as a living thing? Obviously a tribe is successful when it grows and spreads its culture. A tribe is not successful when its culture dies, or is over taken by another culture.
There is only a limited amount “cultural space” within any culture. This is because a culture may have a large history of recorded memory the only important memory is the current experience spreading through the culture. In tribal life the current culture was repeated over and over again. A member of the tribe would experience the language and the history as retold by the members of the culture. Recipes and traditions flooded through the tribal experience. Over each year the tribe normally covered all of these things, ready to repeat them again. In modern America our culture is more elusive. We repeat and restate “themes” in different ways - and these “themes” tell us what our culture contains. So, how did we get here and has our culture evolved or died?

Let’s go back to the tribe and look at what the successful tribe has created. The successful tribe passes its history, food and ideals to each successive generation. The unsuccessful tribe dies. And, as I have mentioned before, in a merger some culture dies and some culture is passed on. And, since the advent of recording technology we have been able to put some culture on the back burner. Culture from the ancient Egyptians, Hebrews, Greeks and Romans have survived to the present in the from of written records, but not in practice. We don’t have vomitoriums, speak Egyptian or have juries of 501 people. These cultural ideas have died. But have these cultures died, or have they evolved into what we have today?

In modern times we find that many cultures continue to live on, even after these people have been assimilated into different societies. Hebrews may have been the first culture to do this as they were able to keep their culture alive even after they had been held in captivity time after time. As tribes became large and began to dominate other smaller tribes without the demand of assimilation some cultural aspects were allowed to survive. Even though Christians were outlawed by the Romans, the Christians were able to keep their religion alive in the hidden places of society. When tribes were small and memory was the only storage media for tradition and customs cultural ideas stayed monolithic. However, as tribes grew into empires some culture was allowed to survive. Why?

What was the advantage of having an empire, if culture was not uniform? The answer of course is security. If we go back to the tribal picture we remember that a tribe’s main purpose was to survive. Large tribes ensured survival by eliminating the potential for conflict. The purpose of survival was to perpetuate the culture. However, with such a large empire, such as the Roman Empire, what is the culture that is worth propagating? Obviously the foods within the Empire varied as the regions of the empire varied and they would not be held at such a high value as other cultural values. Actually, the Romans themselves believed that the cultural value that they propagated was “civilization.” The peoples that the Roman conquered could keep their foods and languages, but they should become civilized and become a member of the Roman Empire. Of course the Roman idea of being civilized was a cultural value with a cultural definition.

As the world evolves from a tribal state to some future state people continue to merge together to form a strong defense against the enemy. The “enemies” in the tribal sense were the people who wanted to take the resources of the tribe. The method of taking resources ranges from destroying a tribe and taking the resources, to a merger of tribes where the resources are shared. In our modern world we have drawn political boundaries around virtually all the resources on the planet Earth. A tribe living within these boundaries shares its resources with other tribes living within these boundaries. Tribes living within these boundaries select leaders that determine how the region should deal with the rest of the world.

Let’s be clear here. We have tribes living within our borders today. Tribes are groups of people with cultures that differ from the majority. In fact, the majority of Americans are members of tribes. And, so it follows that the group of people left over that claim not to be a member of a tribe are by definition a member of a tribe. We have tribes that differentiate themselves by their land of origin - Italians, Irish, Polish, Russian or Pacific Islander. We have tribes that differentiate themselves by religion - Christian, Muslim, Jew, Friends of Jesus, Shakers, Quakers or Catholic. We have tribes that differentiate themselves by hobby - Rock Collector, Baseball Fanatic, Dog Breeder or Fundamentalist Christian. In fact, many of us are members of multiple tribes with multiple interests. We all define our lives by the bits and pieces of culture we collect, support and share.

Some tribes are born, live and die in a few short years. Other tribes live for thousands of years. We have all banded together out of the need for protection from the “enemy.” In America our enemy are those who choose to destroy us. If a tribe dies, it should be for natural causes - like disco. It should not be from external forces - like the Spanish Inquisition. In America every tribe has a right to existence unless that tribe threatens another tribe. Tribes are like individuals, but because of democracy, tribes actually have more power than individuals. Large tribes can elect representatives, while individuals could never do that. After all, that is what representative democracy is all about.

In fact, what democracy has done for tribalism is to give tribes protection and prevented the need for violence. When a tribe chooses violence over discussion democracy steps in and protects the vulnerable tribe. This is because we have recognized that no one wants violence - only protection from it.

Around the world we still have tribes who believe that they don’t need to surrender autonomy to democracy. The leaders of these tribes would rather fight to maintain control rather than suffer from the will of the people. These leaders know that they have been unfair to the people and if the people could, they would punish these leaders. But, the leaders have built protections into their systems to prevent this. Some leaders steal power that they don’t deserve. Sometimes the tribes don’t care. Since it is a democracy only a majority of the tribes need to care before something can happen. And, most democracies are orderly and bureaucratic - leaving time for corrections. In the long run a democracy will eventually get things right even when unnecessary suffering may endure from time to time. For the most part tribes will be protected and the will survive, which is much better than the old system of tribalism where tribes were continuously fearful that they could be wiped out at any time.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit