Robert Frost famously wrote, “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” Sebastian Junger, the author of Tribe, said the word “tribe” is harder to define than home. He suggests we might start by including “the people you feel compelled to share the last of your food with.”
Being a member of a tribe means being part of a group brought together by a set of shared values. In DOT, we say our values are Integrity (We always do what is right), Respect (We value diversity, talent, and ideas), Commitment (We do what we say we are going to do), One FDOT (We are one agency, one team), Trust (We are open and fair), and customer driven (We listen to our customers).
Self-determination theory holds that human beings need three basic things in order to be content: they need to feel competent at what they do; they need to feel authentic in their lives, and they need to feel connected to others. Subscribing to these intrinsic values – the characteristics of a tribe – far outweigh extrinsic values such as beauty, status, and money in creating happiness.
Junger cites research indicating much of a tribe’s basis for moral behavior stems from group pressure. When a person does something for another person, they are rewarded by group approval and by a corresponding increase in pleasurable hormones in their blood which promotes self-sacrifice to promote group welfare. But he says, as described in cave paintings, the most commonly punished infractions in ancient tribes was taking a disproportionate share of the group’s resources. Punishments included public ridicule, shunning and finally, “assassination of the culprit by the entire group.” He describes “a lone figure prone on the ground with what appear to be ten arrows sticking out of him.”
In this newsletter, you will read about an indictment filed against a former member of our “tribe.” (Note: Indictments are an accusation by the Government that a person or corporation has committed a crime. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.) I obviously do not suggest assassinations; however, I do want to point out that only a very small minority of our DOT Tribe violate our values in this way. When it happens, as in the case of the former DOT employee, it was a particularly conscientious employee that raised the red flag to management, the modern day equivalent of shooting the arrow.
Our DOT Tribe, as demonstrated by everyday actions, believes in the DOT value of integrity. In the rare instance in which a member disregards our value, we want you to remember – It’s Never the Wrong Time to Do the Right Thing.