Humans: What Lies Behind our Behavior

My organization, CLASS (Community Living and Support Services) recently moved our offices and programs to our newly renovated building in Swissvale (Pittsburgh). This new setting has ushered in a new era for us as we begin our 64th year of service to folks with disabilities in our community; especially now that we are fully independent from UCP. 

As we continue to settle into this great building, we have finally begun to unpack our library books, and one of the fist books I found in the box was, "The Social Animal," by the NY Times columnist, David Brooks (Random House, NY, 2011).  As I am always distracted by books (my poor wife has to re-direct me when near book stores at the mall), I stopped my unpacking and started to finger through this work which was published in 2011. 

Now I am not a big David Brooks fan as his political perspectives are much more conservative than mine, but he is an excellent researcher, writer, and commentator, and this book is a fun, sociological perspective of people and culture. Given my interest in social capital, relationships, and culture change, I began to re-read this book, and especially the sections I underlined 4 years ago. 

The book takes 2 fictitious characters, Rob and Julia, their meeting, falling in love, and marrying; and at most junctures Brooks overviews what is happening with sociological, or anthropological evidence and theory. It is a very creative process. 

What was interesting to me then (and still today) were musings Brooks makes such as: "In all societies men engage in more group violence and travel farther from home than women...... Plays written and produced in Germany are 3 times as likely to have tragic or unhappy endings than plays written and produces in the US....Nearly a quarter of Americans say they are often afraid of saying the wrong thing in social situations, whereas 65 percent of all Japanese say they are often afraid.....Cities in the southern part of US are twice as likely to have words like "gun" in their names, whereas cities in the north are more likely to have words like "joy" in their names. "

If you are like me, and are interested in what is behind what we do, and especially how it relates to our social capital, books like "The Social Animal" offer us another lens. In learning.

I can't wait to see what books are still in this box!