When I lived in Gabon, Africa for 5 weeks I was amazed by the strength of community. In the rural village of Oyem, children were raised with 60 family members within walking distance from their home. They grew up surrounded by uncles, aunts, cousins all of whom knew their name and cared for them like parents. They roamed freely between houses, always exploring with a loving guardian within sight. Their aunts and uncles were considered equals to their mother and father. For real – many kids spent months and years living with relatives, away from their nuclear family.
It’s hard for me to imagine growing up in such an environment and feeling seriously depressed. Of course families all have their issues, and I’m sure that life is never all kumbaya. But I’m beginning to believe that much of our suffering comes from our isolation. Our isolation in location. Our isolation in mutual understanding. Our isolation in thought. Together, but isolated.
Surrounded by dozens of people who love you certainly won’t be a cure for depression. But it certainly won’t hurt.