Usual Storyline


Do Nice Neighborhoods Exist ?

Life is a matter of uncertainty. The one who certain about himself, will live his life  ( Maximillian- Heartwood)

Migration and adaptation isn’t a simple things, trust me. I was living  in remote areas, you have to travel for more than 20 km to reach small city, and new ecosystem, a bigger civilization, with more complexity.  Early childhood lived at small village, teenager in a small town, high school in a little bit bigger town, and then university in a city, several small adventure in each culture shift.

In each part of migration and adaptation, I had to read and spend more time to understand the common value of the surrounding  neighborhoods, sometime it’s so easy and joyful, but it can be so ugly and unpleasant.

Javanese people tend to get adapt nicely with their ( our) neighborhood, and I’m a javanese by culture. But what is nice ? Pleasant people with smiley at their face as daily signature ? No, not really, human society is quite complex, with a bunch of variables.

The main key of human survival is our ability to get adapt with surrounding neighborhoods. It can be urban, rural, jungle, or so desert society, with it’s uniqueness of value and social law, apparently.

I took this article as reference and copied it, mostly agree with his argument :

Nice People for Nice Neighborhoods

In an earlier post, I argued that nature is not really red in tooth and claw. Most animals spend far more time cooperating than they do tearing each other apart. Yet, there are settings in which being nice can be a losing proposition. A gangster who cares about other people’s feelings might as well shoot himself – before someone else does.

The limits of being nice

Similar limits to cooperation apply to our own species. This principle goes some way to explaining warfare. Our subsistence ancestors were rather peaceful because they ranged widely over the land in search of game and vegetable food.

Once they became more sedentary, they settled on patches of ground capable of growing plenty of food. This land was violently defended ushering in organized warfare.

Even comparatively non warlike hunter-gatherers are not particularly peaceful amongst themselves and homicides are quite common. The most common cause of aggression is sexual competition. Men mostly die in fights over women and women are often murdered by jealous husbands.

Sex is a dangerous business because it raises severe conflicts of interest. A lover may impregnate a wife but evade all the costs of raising the child that then fall to the husband who believes that the child is his own.

Aggression and risk-taking by young men is an endless source of trouble and inflates accident statistics, assaults, and homicides. It also reflects sexual competition. Young men try to impress peers as a way of increasing their social status and sexual attractiveness to women (1).

That scenario plays out in subsistence societies but it is less obvious in middleclass communities where competition focuses on economic success rather than physical prowess. Violent confrontation is much more common in poor communities, however.

Parents who are not nice

Interestingly, children from urban slums are raised to be more aggressive. This is realized by withholding affection and through the liberal use of corporal punishment.

When social workers try to educate the parents on the adverse emotional consequences of corporal punishment, and provide instruction on being emotionally supportive to their children, they get nowhere (2).

The parents listen politely and continue as before. They believe that sparing the rod is spoiling the child and raise their children to be as aggressive and suspicious as they are themselves.

Perhaps they recognize that learning to trust other people is not such a great idea if you happen to live in a crime-ridden slum. Being nice there could mean getting taken advantage of. If you want to be nice, try living in a nice neighborhood.

Nigel Barber, Ph.D., is an evolutionary psychologist as well as the author of Why Parents Matter and The Science of Romance, among other books.

1. Barber, N. (2002). The science of romance. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus.

2. Nightingale, C. H. (1993). On the edge: A history of poor Black children and their American dreams. New York: Basic.


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This entry was posted on April 21, 2013 by in Review and tagged , .
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