Regulars and Shorts, Slightly Off Center

Slightly Off Center: Do It For the Tribe

By Dennis Hinkamp

It’s good for you, too.
by Dennis Hinkamp


One of the great tragedies of our so-called civilization is the loss of tribal mentality. Sure, it can also go tragically wrong when morphed into jihads, gangs and soccer fans, but we have been trending way too far towards the cult of individuality.

Due to a certain just-in-time-for-Christmas ruling, I had hope. I was extremely proud of Utah for transitioning so quickly from freak-out to common sense over same-sex marriage. I even Photoshopped the state logo to read “Love Elevated” instead of the double entendre “Life Elevated.” Most of the early commentaries from people of all faiths were leaning toward acceptance. I perceived a deep sigh of relief that maybe now we can all just move on to more pressing issues.

I guess not; at least for now. I think there are those who felt they needed make a statement by demanding a stay of executing on same-sex marriage, but the state must know that the dominoes are all falling toward the rainbow. Though I don’t think Utah will follow Washington and Colorado into the legal pot Promised Land soon, I also don’t think we will wander around in the desert for 40 years. We can then change Life Elevated to The High Life with only a little snickering.

Yes, I know I will probably go to rhetorical hell for mixing biblical, gay and drug metaphors.

Maybe it is a false hope, but I really had hope this year that we were at least becoming a little more “us” and less “us and them.” I sent my saliva into the National Geo­graphic genome project and it turns out we all came from North Africa. The only real “them” are the aliens who might swarm in from other universes to steal our water and our women. These movie scenarios are about the only ones in which the world really comes together. Given the choice of having our brains eaten, we can somehow unite everyone from Reykjavik to Cape Town.

Looking for a reason? Here’s one: Do it for the tribe.

It is true that your child, your dog, your blog and your poetry all seem to be the most special and unique in all the world and recorded history, but they aren’t. That is why we all need to get our dogs and children vaccinated and cult poetry and crafting tips down to the excellent minimum. Sharing is not always the best thing to do. We have to do what’s best for the tribe. The tribe must survive even if we individually don’t.

Though cars and trucks are a personal symbol of expression surpassed only by tattoos, we need to drive a little less and stop idling them in parking lots if we ever want to see the mountains from the valley floor in winter again. Do it for the tribe and get bonus points for being smug doing it.

Do you have the flu? Stay home; do it for the tribe. Are you in a bad mood? Keep it to yourself; do it for the tribe. Etc., you have the idea.

It is well to remember that the entire universe, with one trifling exception, is composed of others.
— John Andrew Holmes

Dennis Hinkamp does not wish to pick on poetry and blogging; they are no worse than drunken karaoke.

This article was originally published on January 30, 2014.