153 
culture is very communally based and tribal. The individual does not have much of a role.
The tribe takes care of you. You have to accept the brutality of the tribe, along with the
security. You are protected and taken care of by the tribe. But you forfeit your individuality.
The tribe supports you, and your family supports you. We’ll marry you, put you in school,
and find you a job. You forfeit your individual freedom, and I prefer my freedom.” He adds,
“I don’t think I started identifying myself as really American until I was in my thirties.”
Freelance is also a detribalization process of changing the focus from “one” significant work
tribe to having the ability to enter many tribes (retribalization), organizations, and services
that need your expertise and vice versa. Although your loyalty as a freelancer is to the
people or organization you are working with at the time, you are a visitor and not required
to adopt the culture. Instead you must develop a tangential understanding of the culture
and what they are about in a relatively short period of time. This requires the ability to
quickly observe, assess, analyze and intuitively perceive your particular role or contribution
to this newfound tribe you are entering. Freelance is akin to having a tribal “green card”
where you can enter a new tribe, collaborate, and if all goes well hopefully return. Seth
Godin describes in his TED talk that the power of the Internet has allowed for an
emergence of nontraditional tribes with common goals, interests, and something worth
changing a movement lead by ordinary citizens with extraordinary reach and vision. Click
to watch TED video from Youtube.com February, 2009:
(http://www.ted.com/talks/seth_godin_on_the_tribes_we_lead.html).
The Takeaway: From Occupying a Unique Perch to Leaving The Cage; Our
Identity Is Always Shifting
We are all migrants at many times in our life entering a new culture whether it is a school,
country, and neighborhood or even meeting ideas that are foreign to what we have
previously encountered. As a giant socially constructed cell, our permeable membrane
allows multiple and sometimes conflicting ideas, experiences and relational encounters to
enter our being and change us. As relational beings, we are a fluid, ever-changing work in
progress.
Ayad Rahim’s journalistic senses allowed him to observe, capture and chronicle his Middle
Eastern sojourn. He occupies a unique perch straddling American and Middle Eastern
cultures. Ayad, when younger, saw himself as a “warrior for the Arab tribe” and later
resented the many Arabs who rallied behind Saddam Hussein. Ayad knew firsthand the
ruthlessness Saddam Hussein wielded in Iraq from terror to genocide and ecocide
nothing and no one was safe.
Previous Page Next Page