Plight of the Village People.

Author:Puterbaugh, Dolores T.

WE ARE NOT world citizens--at least, we are not very good ones. More than a small village--where everyone knows everyone else--strains our memory banks, patience, and mental health. For most of human history, our social circles were small. In much of the world, this remains the case. We may resent in some ways the intrusiveness of nosy neighbors and the burden of having to bear responsibility for past mistakes--something the anonymity and fluidity of big cities abates. On the other hand, modem, First-World urban environments apparently contribute to higher incidences of psychosis.

In a village, everyone knows everyone else, and the degree to which personal flaws and misbehavior impact everyone else in the community is seen clearly. If I am a cheesemaker, and the potato and cabbage farmer in town sinks into alcoholic lethargy, thus that the crops are scant, all the cheese in the world will not barter me enough potatoes and cabbage for the long, gray winter

Villagers are necessarily interconnected. Wise ancient traditions underscore this; consider that Aramaic--the language of Jesus--used one word for "sibling" and "cousin," such that the phrase "brothers and sisters," might mean actual siblings or merely very close family relations. Other ancient traditions reinforced close connections such as the early Celt practice of having children at age six or seven leave their parents' home to live with near relatives in a neighboring village, so that all villages in a vicinity were connected tightly by bonds of blood and personal affection.

The predisposition to a smaller world forms our reactions to events. For instance, we are outraged at distant situations, as if they directly impact us, but the outrage is impotent, reduced to little more than complaints, or donning the appropriate color rubber bracelet. (Fasting for a day or two to gamer the funds to send a donation to a legitimate charity would be better)

It is natural to assess where we are in the pecking order of our tribe. When the tribe is a small village, or the equivalent, comparisons are limited and the range often is narrow. Across species, those lower on the pecking order tend to respond, epigenetically, with certain behavior patterns: a tendency towards depression; less social acuity; submissive or aggressive patterns of behavior The modem global village means we are not figuring out where we stand in a pool of 200, 500, or 1,000--we are able to compare ourselves to millions. It no...

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