Profiling Tepehua

By Moonyeen King
President of the Board for Tepehua
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 Tepehua 1

During the late 1960’s and early 1970, John B. Calhoun made experiments with rats to understand human behavior through overpopulation. He built a rodent city which was called “Mouse Utopia Experiment”.

The rodents were given everything they needed as in water, food, nesting boxes and could have lived the life of ole Riley rat, but instead slowly began to destroy and implode within the groups they made. The colony started with approximately five pregnant females and the population rapidly expanded, they formed separate groups in a pecking order and Calhoun watched as strange behavior began over time. Although there were four sections to rat city, they finally started to gravitate to only two and those sections became crowded to the extreme.  The first comers were now in power and were the most aggressive rats who got most of the females and would rape anything they so chose regardless of gender, creating violence. The inferior rats were left to their own devices. They ate and slept alone, losing interest in sex. The young, having grown up in this non-family environment, not having any responsibility like foraging for food, or escaping predators of other species, accepted the violence from their own kind. Lethargy crept in. They slept and ate and groomed all day, having no conception of mating or marking territory. Thus the colony never met the 5,000 number required to finish the test. The population started to decline after 200, and finally died off from old age.

Calhoun later noted that all species seem to thrive on a sense of identity and purpose and experiencing such things as tension, mating, marking territory, foraging and fending off foes. In Calhoun’s view “....a life without work or conflict, and all sense of necessity is taken from life, it no longer has a purpose”.

Another test was done with rodents, this time putting the pregnant rats in a cage with limited water and food. As the population exploded, the food and water did not and they still shared the same space. These rats began turning on each other, killing, cannibalizing, trampling the pups to death, raping everything in sight, killing for the food and water, pure murder and mayhem. Others stayed alone, self mutilated and exiled themselves as best they could.

There will always be class distinction and racism in all countries in the world, as all countries are now very diverse due to migration patterns, the wisdom is using diversity as a powerful tool, instead of inbreeding like the rat experiments.

In every overcrowded shack in the Mexican barrios, where whole families share a bed and all the privacies in life are non-existent, families turn in on themselves in the form of family abuse and violence. When children do not have the experience of an average family shelter, like the experiment of over-crowded rats, the family units will disappear. A world without poverty will change that, but is that the impossible dream? In Tepehua we are not aiming for the impossible, we are aiming for a level playing field where the choice is up to the individual and the chance is there to make that choice.

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Column: Profiling Tepehua




Settled in Mexico 13 years ago.  The intention was to retire into the arts as a writer, poet and painter...that didn’t happen. Beneath the smiles of the peoples of Mexico there was such a great need for change, especially for the women and children of the barrios, Moonyeen has dedicated these years to change the face of this little corner of the world. The work done by the volunteers of the Tepehua Community Center is teaching that change is possible anywhere. Moonyeen was portrayed as “Woman of the Year,” also two Paul Harris Rotary awards for the work done at Tepehua.  “Life in Mexico is very fulfilling. The Mexican people give so much more to us immigrants than we can possible return.

Editor's Page - August 2009
Editor's Page By Alejandro Grattan-Dominguez   What follows is an announcement that will run in the August debut issue of our new sister-publication
Profiling Tepehua Part One
Profiling TepehuaPart One By Moonyeen King   The barrio of Tepehua is just West of Chapala. One of five barrio’s, each as poor as the other.
Profiling Tepehua Part Two
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Profiling Tepehua
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