You won't find it in any medical journal or in ay college health textbook, but Wetico is a mental illness, even if not in the traditional sense. Right now, the first question that is popping into your mind is, "What in the world is Wetico?" To answer this question I will start where I first heard the term used: a documentary by Tom Shadyac entitled "I Am."
For those of you who don't know, Tom Shadyac is a director who has worked on movies such as "Ace Ventura" and "Bruce Almighty." While these films are often regarded as comedic hits, the documentary "I Am" failed to gain as much publicity. In this film, Tom goes around the country with a film crew to interview many men and women who are influential thinkers. This includes people such as Desmond Tutu, Howard Zinn, and many more. Tom asks two simple questions to these profound men and women, "What is wrong with the world?" and "What can we do to fix it?"
This sets the stage for Wetico.
Wetico is brought up in one of Tom's interviews with Thom Hartmann, a radio talk show host and New York Times best-selling author. It is Thom Hartmann that mentions Wetico. Wetico is, in fact, a Cree word meaning cannibal. But it means a little more than that. Wetico is a word for someone who not only eats another but eats the life of another.
Tom Shadyac claims we are all infected with this ideology, and I am inclined to agree with him. In our society, we consume more goods that we need. We are always looking to buy bigger or better things, whether that be a house or a gaming console, the effect is the same. This consumeristic society is, in fact, a product of Wetico. We suck the life out of others through our greedy consumerism.
Think of this using a metaphor Tom Shadyac uses in his documentary. There is a tribe and every morning the hunters go out to harvest food for the tribe. When they return, they share the food and no one goes hungry. One day, the best hunter decides to keep his food for himself, claiming that since he is the best, he deserves to keep all of his food. Eventually, every hunter starts doing this. What happens in this story is that the weak and old die because they cannot hunt and the hunters will not share with them.
This story is an excellent example of our society today. We no longer support those who cannot support themselves, instead we buy more things for ourselves.
This sounds grim, but Tom Shadyac not only points out the flaws of our society, ut gives us a solution as well. Cooperation. Although this may seem simple, it's true, if we as a people can work together regardless of race, gender, or ethnicity, we can strive to remedy the problems the world faces and, regardless of what you may think, it does not take a great leader or organization to start this. It starts with you and me, with individuals.
If you have any further questions, I would encourage you to watch the documentary "I Am" by Tom Shadyac. I doubt you'll regret it.