A hunter-gathering society has, on its doorstep, the equivalent of its supermarket, hospital, place of worship, and entertainment centre, and none are shut at weekends. There are no admission fees, no bills, no tax, no mortgage, and no pensions. A house and food cost nothing so there is little need to plan far in advance. These are also, of course, the keys to why their land is so much more important for tribal peoples than it is for almost anyone else. It means literally everything to them, including life itself.
It is arguable that such spontaneity, their ‘living in the moment’, is a key factor behind what might be described as the ‘goal’ of many tribal societies. In their case, it is to maintain a healthy life – in a physical and spiritual sense – rather than share the ambition of the industrialized nations to seek perpetual ‘progress’ or ‘growth’, revolving around wealth.
Tribal Peoples for Tomorrow’s World: A guide by Stephen Corry (3/3)
“…to maintain a healthy life – in a physical and spiritual sense” sounds sensible and achievable to me. A common aspiration shared among all people everywhere, since ever there were people. It also, by definition, implies living sustainably.
However, for most of us moulded by modern, predatory, mass-consumer society, our understanding of what makes a human whole and healthy – along with our understanding of what it is to live sustainably – is warped. Desperate to become less unwell we buck against the “mind-forg’d manacles”, but in our confusion we end up being herded after phantoms – fetishes like money, extreme status, rigid religious or ideological codes – which only separate us further from the essence of who we are.
Anguished, we may brutalize ourselves and others in the name of demented, self-aggrandizing systems of belief. We may quietly drink ourselves to death in protest. We may just muddle along, stalked by malaise, occasionally pausing to take stock and wonder what on earth…
Yet a healthy life, in a physical and spiritual sense, is materially attainable. Those autonomous communities of people we are still (!) schooled to regard as savage, stupid and childlike, surviving in tiny pockets of self-stewarded wildness, are living examples. Only thing is, to make such a life viable for our children’s children’s children, in the throes of the gathering planetary crisis, we’re going to have to, er, dismantle civilization.