While reading the extracts, I was thinking that the conditions of life that many people know predispose them to fear and unhappiness. Then I saw the final sentence about developed nations and strong social support networks.
American capitalism is about as cruel as the ancient regimes I've seen described, and I'm certain that people then wanted to escape those regimes' cruelties. It may be that humans are predisposed more to happiness and an absence of fear. Is anyone researching such a hypothesis?
Capitalism, another name for glorified feudalism(according to Karl Marx), a system which has the resources in the hands of a few, and in which the greater population's labor is exploited for the gain of the few in charge.
Huh, that almost sounds like the present day system. Power in the hands of a few wealthy corporatists and their minions, uh...investors. If religion is so necessary for happiness, we're in trouble. Many Xians in Africa believe there are witches in the form of innocent children for which the solution is to burn them alive, beat them, destroy them for Xians to be protected. So, too, some of these same Xians believe that albinos have spiritual power, and dismembering their bodies and retaining the body parts, gives the Xian greater powers. Religions seem to be a tribal thing, a kind of insecurity driven insanity.
Raymond writes: Capitalism, another name for glorified feudalism(according to Karl Marx), a system which has the resources in the hands of a few, and in which the greater population's labor is exploited for the gain of the few in charge.
Well, in our modern culture, capitalism (and the market materialism that it fosters) has come to replace theological religion as the religion of choice in many peoples' minds. Salvation is material; going to Wal Mart and having a choice of five different models of widget among three different brands (probably all from China) - to them, that is both liberty and salvation at the same time.
Many people no longer view witches and goblins as real, but they support and pursue economic theories that are equally untenable, and occupy a similar place in their faith and affections. Here is a pretty good article that touches on why and how the capitalists came to encourage and exploit that replacement of the theological religions with the material, and more importantly, what can and should be done about it from a political perspective:
Oh good grief, they're looking at small children for heaven's sakes. A lot of three year olds still wet their pants, is capable person going to wear a diaper all their life? Three year olds believe in the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus too. But one day they will grow out of these beliefs and move on with their lives. Little kids believe what they see on the tv is real even if it is a cartoon. One day, children grow up and realize Blue on Blue's Clues is not a real dog. For some reason many adults cling to their religious beliefs even without any physical reinforcement like presents or multiple episodes of Scooby Doo that go on for years upon years.
Most of the big religions have one book that they plug into every week (or day if they're really religious). They make all kinds of excuses for their book which doesn't make much sense or really apply to modern life, but they make it fit. Spongebob Squarepants makes more sense than the bible or the Koran.
People living in rural areas are very dependent on a small group of people for friendship and emotional support. In addition, often in rural areas everyone in town is related in some way. It's hard to judge how atheistic someone might be when admitting a lack of faith might be socially and emotionally devastating.
People who share the bonds of religion--i.e., are similarly dependent on an authority figure--might indeed be more likely to cooperate.
In experiences that began about 15 years after I broke with religion, I found that people who are putting efforts into achieving a common goal, but are not in a competition that one will win and the others will all lose, do cooperate as societies. A Toastmasters club, and an employee-owned-and-operated business, are two such places.
Your teasing anecdote pushed me into googling 'P G Wodehouse' and 'golf'. I found that he wrote many stories involving golf.
Can you remember or relocate a title so that I can more easily pursue my search for the one that you are tempting me with?