In a species that requires touch, interaction and community to survive, our culture disproportionately values independence.
It starts from the very beginning of life. The concern parents have when their baby is “behind” and the joy they express when their baby finally takes those first steps – that joy being really a masked sigh of relief that their baby is more “independent” now.
And independence gets rewarded as milestones, achievement and excellence become the focus of growth over a lifetime.
This serves us well in a society where resources, attention and awards are limited. We get badges of honors when we are the “greatest of all time” or the most valuable player or are the captain.
We learn quickly that there is a hierarchy and that hierarchy is typically shaped as a pyramid – with room for very few at the top. We have to study hard to beat the curve. We have to edge out our coworkers for a larger portion of the bonus pool. We have to have the best looking lawn on the block (i.e., better than that poor sap down the street with the crabgrass).
And a lifetime of being financially and socially rewarded for independence ends with so many elderly living and dying alone whether by choice or by default.
How does a species that starts with babies who would die without human touch end end with the idea of people dying alone normalized?
Perhaps it is because self-preservation is a honed habit, skill and belief over a lifetime and fed by generations of traumas.