Health: Belonging to a tribePosted: June 4, 2016
How come rampage killings occur in affluent or upper middle class communities and in rural towns with low crime rate and not in high crime urban neighborhoods?
How come that most rampage shootings by a lone gunman continue to increase since the 1980’s?
How come suicide is extremely high in most modern societies (e.g., USA) while extremely low in traditional tribal societies?
How come the depression and anxiety rates in wealthy countries are eight times that of poor countries?
How come people in countries with the largest income disparity such as the United States have the highest lifelong risk of develop depression as compared to countries with the smallest income disparity?
How come babies feel scared at night?
How come when people reflect back at their suffering during war it was simultaneous the worsts and the best of times?
How come after 9/11 or other major crisis, suicide and crime rates went down?
How come post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is significantly higher for the rear based troops who suffer relatively few casualties as compared to the front line troops who engage in actual combat?
How come Israel Defense Forces have a very low PTSD rate compared to the USA military forces?
How come the elderly and so many people feel isolated, lonely and sad?
How come the streets and parks are covered with litter and buildings and surfaces are covered with graffiti?
The answers may not reside within the individual but in our pathological individualistic culture. Through millions of years of evolution, we were a clan–a tribe. And, as a tribe, we were mutually dependent and supportive. This is our biological and social DNA–we are social interdependent beings. The common theme underlying the questions above is that we are disconnected from others and our community. We are living apart from our evolutionary background where living together as tribe allowed us to survive and prosper for thousands of generations. When we are part of a community and are welcomed back after experiencing trauma, depression, anxiety, violence, PTSD, and even littering is significantly lower.
The importance of community, being part of tribe, is superbly described by New York Times bestselling author, Sebastian Junger, in his book, Tribe-On Homecoming and Belonging. This is a must read book to understand the hidden pathology created by our modern economic inequality American culture that worships the individual affluence over the common good. It suggests that we must return to our evolutionary origins, radically reduce economic inequality, work on community wide projects to enhance the common good, and actively participate in rebuilding our tribe. Being a meaningful part of a tribe can be much more healing than ingesting a profit based pharmaceutical drug for depression and PTSD. Let us support the common good over the individual increase in wealth.
As the poet John Donne wrote in 1624:
No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.