The Good of the Tribe

Tribe: a social community linked by common culture.

The word tribe has been co-opted by wily marketing wizards. Playing on our desire forvibe and tribe authentic connection, TRIBE monetizes social media endorsements to promote brands. There’s Tribe Dynamics, Tribe Wearables, TRIBE nutrition bars, Tribe Hummus, to find your community and countless websites with tips on how: your VIBE attracts your tribe.

Quite to the contrary, chronic loneliness has become a modern-day health epidemic. It’s almost impossible to find any true sense of “tribe” in contemporary material life. We’re drawn to the word, but we seem to have lost its aspiring premise: to risk oneself for the common good. According to Sebastian Junger in his book Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, to do so is outside of the cultural norm of acquisitive individualism.

Modern society doesn’t encourage closeness. It pits us against one another in a “keeping up with the Jonses” competition – valuing beauty, money, and status over integrity, kindness, and citizenship. This competition then breeds distrust, as evidenced by our country’s obsession with lawsuits! plantiffs.JPGWe fight to protect our turf, blind to the alienating effects of our individual prosperity.

What’s more, politicians speak with contempt accusing rivals of deliberately trying to harm the country, further eroding group unity. When our highest leaders rest satisfied with the fifty plus one, we all lose. We are living in a world that is at war with itself.

If we begin to recognize the silent struggles beneath the surface and ACT, in our daily lives and local communities, for the GOOD of the TRIBE, together we can combat the dangerous threat of social isolation and ideological separation.

A recipe for the good of the Tribe:

  1. Connect with self – examine what you tolerate and take time to restore your spirit. Your sense of self reflects like a mirror. Get comfortable with all that you are, accepting of your strengths and weaknesses, anchored by the things you value most in life.
  2. Connect with others – forge strong bonds by approaching with trust until trust is broken, give of your time, treasure, and talent, employ empathy and extreme compassion.
  3. Connect with purpose – focus your energies toward something productive and meaningful to you. And when possible enlist or share the experience with others!

When actively engaged in our communities or a common cause and allied arm-in-arm with one another, life has a higher purpose. We are the connective tissue of our neighborhoods, our cities, our country, and the world.

Our individual actions define our common culture; they determine whether or not we are a tribe or simply tribal.we-566326_640.jpg

With a Perspective


On a brisk morning, I jump into my car, reach first for the heat, and then for the radio. The KQED morning anchors are already droning on about the winter Fund drive interrupting my flow of news. Leaving from the Outer Sunset for Palo Alto with the ocean on my right, I decide to make the call.

“Thank you for calling KQED…”

Before the volunteer can go on, I launch into animated platitudes.

“I’m so grateful for KQED’s reporting, I listen every morning on my commute to stay informed, what you do is sooo important, now more than ever, especially in this era of post-fact journalism…” blah blah blah

The gruff voice on the other end quickly moves me along:
“Mam, how much would you like to pledge?”

Slightly annoyed, I give my information to become a Sustaining Member.

To my surprise, he asks…“Would you like to be transferred to a voicemail box to share how you feel about KQED?”

“Why yes! Yes, I would!” (As I think to myself – AHA! That’s how it works…)


I arrive at the studio at 7:45 AM on a Saturday morning, greeted by fellow volunteers and toasted bagels.

Ken runs us through the script, the how-to. As May gives out prizes and updates us on our fundraising totals, the what’s what.

We’re “On Air”, in a live studio, many anxious first-time volunteers, and a few old hands, of ALL ages, from ALL over the Bay area – Fairfax, Dublin, Campbell, San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose. Our callers are even more diverse and wide-ranging – from Sonoma, Davis, Pleasanton, Monterey, even Idaho!

We’re 16123854_173574143127304_3919436237768753152_n1united by a love of public radio, a desire to give, AND these most uncertain of times.

At breaks, volunteers share fears and concerns. We share our stories and hopes. Our callers share them too! Encouraged, we eagerly await the next call, and the chance to connect.

Matching challenges and bonus gifts heat up the phone lines. With the roar of activity, it’s difficult to hear, but easy to tell, we’re on a roll!

We close the day as the 2nd highest in Ken’s Fund drive experience with more than $70,000 in contributions!

The record, however, is clearly tied to this year’s election results – a heavy price to pay for our self-satisfaction!

Like never before, Americans are joining in, rising up, and making a difference together – for KQED, the ACLU, our National Parks, Planned Parenthood, and most importantly, for one another.

By standing up for our values, I only hope that we can counter the pervasive fear that now exists in order to reclaim what’s already been lost and triumph over what is yet to come.

With a Perspective, I’m Kat Walsch.