Variation on Robert Wright: Social Malaise
There was a news items last week. A grocery clerk was reprimanded for giving candy to a child, even though mom was present. The child's father complained that the clerk was teaching the child that it was acceptable to take gifts from strangers. (1)
Several scholars (Richard Wright, Glantz & Pearce, the Santa Barbara Group) suggest that some of our mental health issues occur because of the poor match between our hunter/gatherer structure and our present culture. While I think that H&G minds will build H&G cultures, there are times I must agree with them. I do not share the Rousseau idealization of "noble savages," they likely had their problems with mania, anxiety, and visions but handled them differently than we do. Still, I suspect that most of us do better in smaller groups. Coalitions can be formed and maintained for decades. The labors of food gathering, home construction, and child rearing can be shared by the group.(2) The grocer ought to be able to offer the candy, the child should be able to accept it.
1) I remember a depressed 10 yo child. He gave one of his recurring lectures at home about the degree to which no one liked him and that he was going to kill himself. His younger brother replied, "Go talk to a stranger, too!"
2) It's 20 miles down my road to Dutch Country. I drove one day and passed a 6, 8, and 10 year old, sweeping their home's sidewalk. Not only were they all working, the three brooms moved in synchrony! Their flat black hats gave away the reason.