15 February 2010

Ghost Village

Sometimes I feel as though my village has failed me. Then I think “What village?” We as a society have moved so far beyond the village model it is impossible to think that there is any real support network. Not only have we moved beyond it, we have dismantled it purposely little by little. My research is theoretical at best, but look at the history of our communities. Should we go back as far as cavemen? Who perhaps lived a similar existence as we do now? Small family groups living each to a cave, fighting for their every morsel, attacking anyone who dare come near their territory or threatened their survival. Just as I write this I think maybe we have come full circle. We now live in our little shoe-boxes making a home for ourselves, sometimes taking it to an entirely over-the-top level of collecting toys and gadgets and shiny cars. We pull up to in the trophies we have hunted and gathered and attack anyone who tries to steal our parking spots. Our elected representatives argue for policy that will safeguard our right to continue our extravagant lifestyles. But, I digress…. This was not meant to be a political post. But you get my drift from this on-the-spot realization that as a society we have slowly returned to caveman societal structure, which is really only magnified by modern amenities that render the help of friends and neighbors un-necessary.

So, eventually perhaps the cave-people realized it might be just easier to make friends with their neighbors and hunt together, cook together, raise our children together. Perhaps this is where social interaction began to be positively rewarded when beings smiled at each-other feeling the burden lifted from their shoulders to do it all alone while they also had to guard against the outside world. Now take a deep breath and Ohm for a minute and then look at the tribal structure of several families living together, perhaps in separate structures but in a circle amongst a community that hunts and cooks together, sharing their catch and caring for each other’s children. Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents, cousins of many ages surround each other with knowledge, experience and without even having a name for it, support. No one had to ask for help, it was just intrinsic in the tribal structure. That is what we have lost. Perhaps our young might have longed for it and attempted to re-create it in the hippy era of communal living and some have succeeded in maintaining it, but it is not the mainstream norm. Somewhere along the timeline striving for independence and prosperity somehow became an honored existence. “Single Family” homes are the norm, most of which are built in subdivisions outside the city with little need to rely on neighbors for other than social interaction, if that. The “me” generation made it a way of life and perfected the self-gratification equals prosperity=success mentality. We have arrived. But are we there? Are we happy?

We long for more: More connectivity; more time to spend with those we love.
We long for less: less burden to do it all on our own; less stress to join the rat race in order to pay our bills and save the astronomical figures it will take to educate our children so they can join the same rat race to educate their children, who they will rarely actually interact with on any quality level because they are too busy providing for them.
Our economy is trying to tell us something folks. We shouldn’t be bailing out the banks and insurance companies and certainly not the makers of our shiny trophies, we should be looking at the way we live and simplifying it to a more manageable level. Ok, so that might border on political – but the social structure we have designed takes a well-oiled machine and lots of fuel to up-hold and the cogs are getting rusty and the oil, well that’s a political conversation for another day!

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