The Impossibility of Insular Cultures

The Homo sapiens as you and I represent today, is a young species. We may have
survived a difficult challenge…that of survival. One reason for this successful survival
against all odds of the law of jungle was the social evolution of the human being. Man learnt
to use coordinated ways of cooperation as modus operandi for long-term continuance. The
most basic unit of this cooperation was the tribe and membership in the tribe became the most
integral feature of humanity. Our identities, our understanding of the self as well as the world
outside, our value systems…all were sculpted in the moulds of the tribe. The tribe provided
security as well succour to its members and also became the social arena for enculturation.

Surrender to the wisdom of the tribal elders, articulated and reinforced through myths and
lore became the name of the game. Codes of morality were constructed and followed inside
the confines of the tribe and in turn, individuals felt insulated from the threats of competing
or hostile forces. Understandably, early humanity was tethered to an exclusive and fanatic
tribal logic. It took a very long time for human sensibilities to be refined and become
sophisticated enough to extend altruistic benevolence to strangers. Belief in the sanctity of all
human life, even when it falls outside the domain of one’s own tribe, was a much later
development. Moral common sense constituted organisation of individuals into units to
counter threats. Tribal allegiance secured physical and emotional wellbeing for the members
of the tribe.

Kamayani Bisht

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