When travelling to rural Alaska I learnt that people there don’t lock their homes. When they’re away, especially in winter, they don’t just leave them unlocked, they prepare a fire ready to be lit in the hearth, and they stock the cupboards with food and water. I remember an Alaskan seeing my surprise at this and saying, “It’s not like where you live; we still need each other here.”
Perhaps this is why a stranger’s kindness resonates? In cities and suburbs, more so in affluent countries, day-to-day survival isn’t an issue any more (even if it doesn’t always feel like that). We don’t physically need one another in order to live now. And without needing one another, we’re not properly connected. Where would the sense of connection come from?
Alaska made me realise we lost meaning once our survival was secured. The struggle for survival is the meaning, and if your survival’s even moderately in question, that ties you to others around you – it forces you to team up with them, depend on them, serve them. Real or imagined danger connects people, and our connection to others is scientifically proven to be the pinnacle of experience.
About a paragraph into this piece, “Bonding with strangers” I was like, god, I love this, who is the writer and then I realised it was Jon Bauer, a writer I have mentioned before on here. I really like Jon Bauer’s writing.