We have friends that are on “free” medical programs. They have to drive long distances to participate and once they get there, they have to take what’s available where doctors and other medical procedures are concerned. Driving long distances isn’t free and neither is staying overnight. Prevention could have solved a lot of the problems, but perceptions can get in the way.
Recently, one of our son’s friends was diagnosed with colon cancer. The man has always been a meat and potatoes kind of guy. Anything green was perceived as some form of mold, considered inedible, and discarded. Bulk in his diet was interpreted as how much he could stuff in his mouth. Vitamins, minerals and anything that resembled healthful food, just didn’t ring true in his mind for a real man. He is also a smoker. Like my father, our son’s friend’s reality was “We’re all going to go sometime, so why not go happy.” With my Dad, all that changed the last year or so he was alive. We’ll have to wait and see about our son’s friend. At this time, he’s in so much pain from having a large section of his colon taken out, that he’s willing to change his diet and consider quitting cigarettes. Old habits, and our concepts of reality, die hard. When the pain goes away nothing may change, including the chances of cancer reoccurring somewhere else.
Very often our reality includes doing what the tribe does, and has done. Food is part of daily life, a social experience and a contributor to acceptance by our peers…the tribe. If we want to be accepted, we eat what others in the tribe eat. Dressing a certain way is also a tribal thing. If we go to the inner city, we find it’s important to wear baseball caps, usually turned at an angle that totally negates any possible beneficial effect the cap may have. Other realities dictate that we wear ski caps, straw hats or the latest Parisian high fashion chapeau.
Not too long ago, the tribe made a graphic appearance in my life. Six or seven men, all of whom had the same occupation, were walking down a driveway close to where I was standing. They all had on the exact same type hats, wore almost identical jackets, pants and boots. Each one was about two steps behind, and one step to the side, of the man in front. I wished I hadn’t been so mesmerized by the episode and had noticed if they were walking in cadence with each other. Later, I happened by where they were having a meeting. They sat in a line, all had their legs crossed and they all had the same look on their faces.
When they were walking down their driveway, a vision from the past came to mind. One winter, while living in NE Oregon, the road in front of our home was a frozen sheet of glare ice, better suited to an ice rink than a road bed. We had few neighbors and little winter traffic. One afternoon, Celinda called me from the upstairs bedroom window. Walking down the road was a mother skunk, with six baby skunks in tow behind her. They all had the same markings, had their tails raised the same, were walking in line, had the same look of obedience and appeared to have the same apparent objective in mind, whatever that was. They looked like little sailboats, tails trimmed to the apparent wind and following a big guide boat to the next destination.
When we follow a set of rules or beliefs without question, that have their basis in our culture, we’re tribal. Like the baby skunks, we can learn many of life’s necessary skills by copying, not questioning, through rote and tradition. Tribes have their place where community is concerned. Many aspects of life, community and our realities would unravel without the guidelines, dictates and possible ramifications that are under the control of the tribe. But, unquestioningly following orders, without thinking or considering the outcome, can cause untold and serious consequences. Most who do follow without questioning, expect someone else to make the decisions, take care of them and control their lives and thinking. Following unquestioningly perpetuates cycles of destruction.
If laws are made to be broken, and I don’t believe that should be followed as a truism without question either, then many of the laws of the tribe need to be brought up for debate. The problem is the “eighty percent rule” which is “Two percent really think, eighteen percent think they think, and eighty percent would rather die than think.” Will our son’s friend recover from cancer, or is he an eighty percenter? Only time will tell.