Monday, December 27, 2010

Tribe of One

I have always been fascinated with Anthropology and the study of indigenous tribes.  I remember in one of my college courses we studied the book, Yanomamo. It was an interesting account of the anthopologist, Napoleon Chagnon's journey to live with the Yanomamo tribe. Sounds cliche, but the book enforces the fact that Chagnon came to study and learn about them but in turn learned more about himself.

Humans have similar goals and wants, no matter what era or part of the globe we live in.  We all need to survive, and we all want to be happy.  Sometimes in our current society we are so clouded by material objects and luxuries that we lose a sense of connection to what our soul truly needs.  To this, I have found a couple outlets that I'd like to share.

-Buddhist Teachings, and the idea that pure happiness comes from a pure mind. We cannot achieve this through material things, success, money, jewels, the iPad, even. To this idea, I suggest watching The Gods Must Be Crazy. An excellent film that helps prove this point.  We have to rid ourselves of want and desire. 
If we have control over our mind, we can control our reality.  Seems easy, right? Well, I truly think the caveman were alot closer to that than us, despite the millions of years between us.

-Get Closer to Nature. Might sound a little dumb and far-fetched to most but I honestly think we have lost that connection.  Most of us wake up (with an alarm), get in our car, sit in traffic, get to work, sit in air conditioning, go through a drive thru for food, get home, watch tv then sleep.  Our only real connection with nature is maybe the seconds spent in the sun getting in and out of our cars.  We try to expend the least amount of energy possible, yet we work 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week which is crazy compared to the small amounts of "work" a caveman did.  Kids don't play outside anymore, there is a fear associated with "outside", plus why go outside when there are tons of video games inside?

-Humans are Social Creatures, true or false? Well if you look around, it is clear we are social beings.  We build relationships, we remain in contact with blood relatives, we find happiness in friendships.  I have always wondered, however if we take the human out of the social setting would we survive? Would we be happy? It reminds me of an Orson Welles quotes: "We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we're not alone".

Another story that has perplexed me since it broke in 2009, still has me questioning the fact if we absolutely need others to survive.  To a solidary man in the amazon of Brazil, apparently not.  Feel free to take a look at this faschinating story about the last surviving man who has outlived his tribe for 15 years.  He has lived without communication and in complete solitude. 

Staying true to our history's past, this true solitary man has been attacked by Brazilian gunmen trying to get more territory.  Luckily, he has thought to have made it out alive, and the Brazilian government is trying to protect him.  For one man to occupy such a huge amount of land, it can be difficult to monitor.  He deserves to live out his life the way he has for the past 15 years, alone, if that is what he wishes. So, if he can do it, can we all do it? We can take the society out of people but can we take the people out of society. Ok now that's just confusing, but you know what I mean.

It really irks me when people say that men in tribes like this are "uncivilized".  What qualifies as civilized? Being able to read? Driving a car? Knowledge of the past? Well it's all relative.  In my opinion, all humans are created the same. With the need to survive and the desire to be happy.  Everything else is relative.

Now go let that stew for a while.  Life is short. If the lone tribal man can survive 15 years of predators, food scarcity, and amazonian weather (amongst other things) while alone, surely it would be hard for us to complain about a hangnail. ;)

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