de Waal- Getting Along [Sense of Community]

After witnessing the heated quarrel between two chimpanzees, Dr. Frans de Waal comes to recognize that, in the grand scheme of things, the idea of being completely self-sufficient is not the intended way of life. Waal notes that, “the common view of aggression as the expression of an internal drive, or a sign of frustration, or a response to some irritating external stimulus rapidly lost appeal for [him]… not that these notions were wrong — they were heavily debated… stress[ing] the individual, not the social context” (Waal 2), which caused him to understand the solidity of community as well.

The various encounters made, due to Waaal’s high interest in the interaction of the primates, brought about the high recognition of reconciliation and a sense of intense happiness. Primates, that have not seen the members of their groups or friends for an extended amount of time, great them in the most loving way. Squeals and hoots, reverberate from the walls they reside in. The act of grooming also insinuates a loving motion.

Other behaviorist and scientist try to shift the attention of destructive aggression from those who share a social culture to those who are unaware of each other. Those aggressive behaviors are seen in “the bloodshed of gang warfare, drive by shootings, rioting, muggings, and random violence”. Although it is quite menacing information, Waal finds its important to mention because knowing that “chimpanzees are no angels of peace… because they can throw overboard all inhibitions drawing attention to their usual restraint [becomes] impressive” shines a brighter light on the reality of making amends and getting along (Waals 14). The aggression steam from conflict based situations, but are eventually handled depending on the dynamic of the group.

I believe that we as humans have not grown away from our primate social environments, simply because we still place great importance on the idea of community. Many issues that arise today bring about the question of community. Questions such as: Who raised them? Where did this person come from? Who was this person around? immediately speaks community. Analyzing the relationships between the chimpanzees The peacefully stating “conscious community concern is at the heart of human morality” (Waal 23).


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