City life


2 months ago by siggi

Today I visited an old friend on the other side of the country. His side of the country is much more rural and sparsely populated. There is a lot more farmland, but also bigger gardens and more forests. It feels very relaxing to be there, not as hectic as in the densely populated west.

This reminds me of a story George, from Honā, once told us about wolves. Wolves have the reputation of being very hierarchical, with the alpha at the top of the hierarchy. The alpha keeps the rest in check and is often challenged for the dominance of the pack. Living in the pack is good for the alpha, but bad for the omega, the lowest on the hierarchy.

Turns out that this analysis, done by Rudolf Schenkel in 1947, which was also taught in schools for a long time, only applies to wolves in captivity. Wolves in their natural habitat behave very differently. A wolf pack in nature behaves more like a family, with the wolves taking care of each other, rather than fighting for the dominance of the pack. This discovery was published by David Mech in 1999 and described the wolf pack very differently:

I conclude that the typical wolf pack is a family, with the adult parents guiding the activities of the group in a division-of-labor system in which the female predominates primarily in such activities as pup care and defense and the male primarily during foraging and food-provisioning and the travels associated with them.

The reason my little trip today made me think of this was whether it could be that human behavior is influenced in the same way, that our behavior changes for the worse because we are packed close together in cities. Our behavior resembles the change in behavior of the wolves as if we are in captivity. We become more aggressive, more competitive, and more hierarchical when we are living in cities.

No one can deny that rural life is much more relaxed, and not as aggressive and competitive as city life. Maybe we are not meant to live packed together into such small areas.