“The death of one man: that is a catastrophe. One hundred thousand deaths: that is a statistic!” – Kurt Tucholsky
Back in September of 2007, there was an article on Cracked.com about a scientific theory called The Monkeysphere. I would encourage you to read it in order to provide some context to this piece, but the basic premise of the Monkeysphere is that a primate has a finite and biologically predictable capacity for social interaction based on their brain size. To support this theory, the brain size of various primates from the smallest monkeys up to humans was observed and then correlated to their social group sizes to determine if there is any relationship. What they found is that based on the size of the primate’s brain, they could effectively predict the size of the social groups in which the primates self-organized. This in part begins to explain some aspects of the human condition.
When someone close to you comes into harm or death, it is more impactful to you than when a more distant or unrelated person comes into harm or death. Perhaps you can sympathize with someone having experienced loss in your own life at some point, but the real impact their unrelated death has on your life is likely muted or non-existent. If you are of the scientific persuasion then the Monkey Sphere is an evolutionary development that allows you to focus on those within your tribe, which in return furthers your own existence through some form of mutual benefit. If you are of the religious persuasion, then you may recognize the societal structure that God designed such as that displayed in the 12 tribes of Judah. And despite a typical response to the Monkey Sphere calling for a cognisant evolution beyond primal tribal structures, you can no more rise above the Monkeysphere than you can consciously grow a set of wings and fly away. And why should you want to? On a planet of over 7 billion people, what could possibly be accomplished in a perpetual state of unending grief due to the passing of 164k people a day? It is unrealistic to expect the world to care about you as your tribe does.
So what does this mean for us? On any given day there are an infinite number of individual problems to be discovered, experienced, and addressed globally. And the solutions employed by one individual may or may not be appropriate for all individuals. In fact, those problems likely don’t apply to all parties and this is why we have organized society in a way in which those problems are best addressed. Predation of livestock experienced in agricultural communities in Idaho is not likely experienced in America’s inner cities, and inner-city gang violence is not likely an experience of agricultural Idaho, yet these two disparate communities are intertwined in that they prioritize policies around firearms usage with the intent of addressing these local concerns. And whether or not the solutions employed have the desired impact, these localities have the incentive to apply policy (within a given framework) that improves their communities. Should these policymakers apply policies that are detrimental or unpopular, citizens of these communities have recourse at the ballot box. And this is the basic framework of our Republic.
At the inception of this country, we debated what is the best structure for governance and we settled on a bottom-up system that is both accessible, as well as responsive to the needs of the local populace. It is my belief that a good majority of our national strife arises out of a growing centralization of power and an insistence on expanding the Monkeysphere beyond that which meets local needs. If we are to get to a place of national unity, we must first return to a system that respects the autonomy of its member tribes and their ability to respond to their unique needs accordingly.
“My premise is that there’s something hardwired into our DNA, that we as a species came and evolved from caves and clans and tribes, and therefore, we as a species care more about the things that are local to us than we care about the things that are ‘over there’ from us.” – Chris Milk