When tribal adherence becomes toxic
We see it all the time. Someone gets caught cheating, or breaking a social taboo, or undermining the fabric of our culture in order to get ahead…
And the fans of the team rush to his defense.
It happens to spiritual leaders, in sports and in politics. When a member of the tribe transgresses, our instinct is to view the attack on the transgressor as an attack on the tribe.
Of course, it's not.
Not until the tribe members abandon the cultural imperatives and support the leader instead.
Clearly, sports don't work if some players cheat with abandon. Getting rid of cheating is in the interest of all the fans, not just the ones on the other team. And more urgently, the same thing is true of the leaders we follow or the people we choose to listen to. Being a tribal leader shouldn't be a license to degrade the culture.
The bravest thing tribe members can do is judge their leaders precisely the same way they judge the leaders of other tribes. Easy to say, hard to do, because part of the tribal/fan/party dynamic is that our leaders are an expression of ourselves.