I think stress is easier to handle when you have a larger family. Families provide unconditional love, larger families provide a higher quantity of unconditional love. A society that's devoid of the family unit, is a society that lacks a natural coping mechanism. So many people today are forced to suffer alone and bare the brunt of the whole world on their shoulders because they lack the mechanism of the family unit.
Today is a good example. I was severely chewed out by my boss. Maybe I don't handle stress well, or maybe I'm just a overly sensitive weakling. But this incident left me raddled. I probably won't sleep well tonight. I don't really blame my boss, he's just doing his job, which is to yell at screwups. Nor do I blame capitalist society for creating a cutthroat competitive system that's fundamentally at odds with tribal bonds. I enjoy the fruits of capitalism, so I'm fine with the trade off, as long as I have something to fall back on, a family. Since my family is in ruins, I feel I'm a nomad walking a lonely road.
I think the reason why third world countries have an amazing tolerance to eat shit and not die, is because pain is diffused over an entire family. People don't struggle alone, they're not left out to wither and die. I almost yearn to return to a simpler time where societies didn't exceed the tribal collective and become the living hell, which is modern day super capitalism. I've often wondered what it would be like to live as a Hutterite. I certainly admire how they've created a time proven way to sustain their culture without help from the outside world and without compromising their beliefs.
I know how to cut down on stress. First and foremost I need to get the hell away from metropolitan rat filled dumps. Any city that has hundreds of thousands of people inevitably becomes a claustrophobic cannibalistic cage. The countryside would be a nice change of pace. Whenever I enter a rural area, I feel as though I've dumped hundreds of pounds of stress.
I'm not sure that the extended family is the best solution for this. You may not get along that well with your family, but in family oriented cultures you have no choice. You are forced to get along with them. In strong cultures like the Hutterites, you have almost unconditional support from your community, and I think this is much better than just family. Of course the other source of unconditional support is God, which is why he so popular. My personal solution is my nuclear family, meaning wife and kids. This isn't quite unconditional in the sense that I need to manage my family to make it work. But it makes life tolerable for me.
What about Hasidic Jews? They don't live communally and they are not self sustaining, but they seem to have a truly independent subculture.
Yes Hasidic Jews do have an independent sub culture, but even in the film A Life Apart, do you remember when a commentator said that a male Hasidic Jew in a computer store had to speak to promiscuous women? The commentator's point was that the Hasidic Jew's non-Hasidic job, requires him to compromise his belief.
I think there's degrees of independence. Full independence is communal because there's zero outside influence and everything is setup in a way where members don't need to step outside of their hermetically sealed culture to compromise beliefs.
Hasidic jews maintain a high degree of independence, but they're always fighting a losing battle. Everyday they need to confront outsiders. Hasidic jews probably have a hard problem with employment because most places will force them to to cut their beards. At least that's the requirement at my job.
Part of the reason I hate my job isn't because it's dirty, grungy, low paying and physically exhausting - no, the reason I hate it is because I'm required to treat customers like shit. It doesn't matter whether they're elderly, whether they're nice or whether they share my values. My job requires me to act in a way I don't like. I imagine that anyone belonging to a strong religious sub culture, will feel this dislike for worldly compromise a thousand times more.
My whole life has been about how to compromise my beliefs with the world around me, so compromise seems natural to me.
There are always trade-offs and individual Hasidic Jews can decide how much they want to compromise. The sales guys in the computer store had to compromise quite a bit. The guys who worked there stocking inventory probably had to compromise less, but got paid less. Those are choices. I chose a job that minimized my requirement for dealing with people, computer programming. When I managed engineering, I used a screening test problem for programmers that was beyond the mental capability of women to solve, so I only ended up managing intelligent men, which I could tolerate. These are the kind of creative compromises that make life tolerable.
I don't think Hasidic Jews are fighting a losing battle. They are growing in numbers with their high birth rate, and those that get corrupted simply leave. Orthodox Judaism has survived for 3000 years using the same basic approach as the Hasidic Jews are using today.