Tribal Culture

On September 11, 2001, I called my paternal grandmother after my son left for school to discuss the terrible events. Her response (I was the first to tell her) was disturbing.

“Why couldn’t they have flown those planes into the UN buildings and killed all those people?”

I was stunned, but not surprised. My grandmother was a lifelong Republican and Conservative Christian who was raised in the south. She and my grandfather (along with my parents) taught me from an early age that the problems with America were that we had given the blacks civil rights and we allowed women in the workplace. Oh, and let’s not forget that we had stopped beating children. (To be fair🙄, my parents stopped beating me when I was like 13. I think my brother got too big and my mom thought he might start beating her back.)

My grandparents, though, like all white supremacists, loved their own flesh and blood. It was this love that is the only reason I did not take my life when I was a young girl.

It has always been confusing for me to try to grasp all the seemingly juxtaposed views of the only two people in my family I ever felt close to. How could two people love me (when my own parents did not) yet have such great vitriol for anyone they deemed evil (by their own definition)?

In hindsight, it is still not clear to me. I cannot condone their views or their actions. And, in the end, I could not take anymore of my grandmother continuing to demand I try ito find a way to make my abusive husband happy. I never spoke to her again. It was just too much to finally realize that it wasn’t really me she loved. She loved her ideals and one of those was love of family. It had nothing to do with me as an individual human being.

The other thing I wonder is why, if those were the only two people I felt loved by, didn’t I follow down that road? Yes, I was a Republican, yes, I was a conservative Christian, but never quite like that. Never with the what I thought of as racism or sexism (at some point I will expand on that comment). And when I saw what being married to an abusive man was doing to my kids, I told both those sides to go fuck themselves and I walked away.

When I watch a rally like the one Trump was at when he mocked Dr. Ford, I have a vision of it from both sides. I am both sickened, yet understanding. I know those people. I’m related to those people. But they disgust me and I cannot abide by what they say or do.

I have no family now. When you are willing to stand up to anyone for what you believe is right, this is how it ends. I do this all on my own. Human beings are not wired to be that way. Things have to get nasty evil for us to make a complete break from our “tribe.” It’s dangerous on your own. It’s also tiring and wears you down.

So, now I watch as these Republican asshats put their desire for power above justice and I get it. I really do. It is all but impossible to turn your back on your tribe (I challenge liberals to fake-try it with their liberal tribe and see how “easy” it is to break rank). But this is no excuse.

When I left my abusive husband, a family member suggested I ask my abusive mother for help.

(I’ll just leave that hanging for a moment…)

I have faced possible homelessness. When something happens with the kids I have to deal with it alone. There is no one to call. I am the only person on my kids’ emergency cards at school.

And I doubt anyone on either side of the aisle could do that. Because we are not wired to be without a tribe. That’s not how we evolved. Less than 100 years ago, I dread to think what would have happened to me and my kids. It would certainly be far worse than is already happening.

But we have, as a species evolved and are ever evolving so this whole “I might lose my tribe” excuse is worthless to me. I have nothing. Barely a penny to my name and no help here if something truly terrible should happen to us.

So fuck you Republican cowards like Sen. Collins. I get why you did it but it doesn’t make you any less of a nasty, disgusting person. We don’t live in a tribal era. We have evolved. It’s time for you to come down from the trees.

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