A Culture Living Abundantly Without Money Today


Frankenstein Monster


I'm still questioning the role of technology in our lives.  I feel deep down that our technology is part of human nature, part of all of nature.  But we end up doing technology for profit, not from instinct.  It has become our Frankenstein Monster.  I usually think we would be better off with no technology than the technology we now have.  I'm still mulling over this dilemma.
 
Yes, funny how we modern people, with all our wealth and "labor- and time-saving" gadgets, think we are masters of creation.  But we have less time and we slave more than ever.  Why?   
 

The Hadza: Living Gift Economy Today

I just read about one of the few remaining Hunting and Gathering tribes in the world in the December, 2009 issue of National Geographic, called The Hadza, by Michael Finkel.  They live near the Rift Valley in Tanzania.  I'll quote from the article (emphasis mine):
They have no crops, no livestock, no permanent shelters. . . .
 
Food production marched in lockstep with greater population densities, which allowed farm-based societies to displace or destroy hunter gatherer groups. . . .

Agriculture's sudden rise, however, came with a price.  It introduced infectious-disease epidemics, social stratification, intermittent famines, and large-scale war. 

 
Jared Diamond, the UCLA professor and writer, has called the adoption of agriculture nothing less than "the worst mistake in human history"--a mistake, he suggests, from which we have never recovered.

The Hadza do not engage in warfare.  They've never lived densely enough to be seriously threatened by an infectious outbreak.  They have no known history of famine; rather, there is evidence of people from a farming group coming to live with them during a time of crop failure.  The Hadza diet remains even today more stable and varied than that of most of the world's citizens.  They enjoy an extraordinary amount of leisure time.  Anthropologists have estimated that they "work'--actively pursue food--four to six hours a day.  And over all these thousands of years, they've left hardly more than a footprint on the land.
 
Traditional Hadza...live almost entirely free of possessions.  The things they own--a cooking pot, a water container, and ax--can be wrapped in a blanket and carried over a shoulder. . . .
 
Individual autonomy is the hallmark of the Hadza.  No Hadza adult has authority over any other.  None has more wealth;  or, rather, they all have no wealth. . . .
 
Gender roles are distinct, but for women there is none of the forced subservience knit into many other cultures. A significant number of Hadza women who marry out of the group soon return, unwilling to accept bullying treatment. . . .
 
The chief reason the Hadza have been able to maintain their lifestyle so long is that their homeland has never been an inviting place.  The soil is briny; fresh water is scarce; the bugs can be intolerable.  For tens of thousands of years, it seems, no one else wanted to live here. . . .
 
None of the other ethnic groups living in the area... are hunter-gatherers. . . . Many of them look down on the Hadza and view them with a mix of pity and disgust: the untouchables of Tanzania. . . .
 
No Hadza I met... seemed prone to worry.  It was a mind-set that astounded me, for the Hadza, to my way of thinking, have very legitimate worries.  'Will I eat tomorrow?  Will something eat me tomorrow?'  Yet they live a remarkably present-tense existence.
 
This may be one reason farming has never appealed to the Hadza--growing crops requires planning;  seeds are sown now for plants that won't be edible for months. . . . To a Hadza, this makes no sense.  Why grow food or rear animals when it's being done for you, naturally, in the bush?  When they want berries, they walk to a berry shrub.  When they desire baobab fruit, they visit a baobab tree.  Honey waits for them in wild hives.  And they keep their meat in the biggest storehouse in the world--their land. . . . 
 
Tanzania is a future-oriented nation, anxious to merge into the slipstream of the global economy.  Baboon-hunting is not an image many of the country's leaders wish to project.  One minister has referred to the Hadza as backward.  Tanzania's president, Jakaya Kikwete, has said that the Hadza "have to be transformed."   The government wants them schooled and housed and set to work at proper jobs. . . .
 
The school-age kids I spoke with... said they had no interest in sitting in a classroom.  If they went to school, many told me, they'd never master the skills needed for survival.  They'd be outcasts among their own people.  And if they tried their luck in the modern world--what then?  The women, perhaps, would become maids; the men, menial laborers. It's far better, they said, to be free and fed in the bush than destitute and hungry in the city.
 
More Hadza have moved... to Mangola... in exchange for money, they demonstrate their hunting skills to tourists. . . .  Yet among the Hadza of Mangola there has been a surge in alcoholism, an outbreak of tuberculosis, and a distressing rise in domestic violence, including at least one report of a Hadza man who beat his wife to death. . . .
 
There are things I envy about the Hadza--mostly, how free they appear to be.  Free from possessions.  Free of most social duties.  Free from religious strictures.  Free of many family responsibilities.  Free from schedules, jobs, bosses, bills, traffic, taxes, laws, news, and money.  Free from worry. . . .
  
The days I spent with the Hadza altered my perception of the world.  They instilled in me something I call the "Hadza effect"--they made me feel calmer, more attuned to the moment, more self-sufficient, a little braver, and in less of a constant rush. . . . My time with the Hadza made me happier.  It made me wish there was some way to prolong the reign of hunter-gatherers, though I know it's almost certainly too late. . . .
However, then Finkel explains why Hadza life isn't for him, mentioning negative aspects of Hadza life he sees:
But I could never live like the Hadza.  Their entire life, it appears to me, is one insanely committed camping trip.  It's incredibly risky. . . . About a fifth of all babies die within their first year, and nearly half of all children do not make it to age 15.
But he, like most of us in modern civilization, doesn't know how to handle death.  We think we have it conquered when we experience just as much death as the Hadza or anybody ever did or ever will.  We don't get it.  We are people of possession.  Loss of possession is death.  Finkel brings up the solution to the problem right before his eyes:
So, after two weeks, I told everyone in camp I had to go.  There was little reaction. The Hadza are not sentimental like that. They don't do extended goodbyes. Even when one of their own dies, there is not a lot of fuss. They dig a hole and place the body inside. A generation ago, they didn't even do that—they simply left a body out on the ground to be eaten by hyenas. There is still no Hadza grave marker. There is no funeral. There's no service at all, of any sort. This could be a person they had lived with their entire life. Yet they just toss a few dry twigs on top of the grave.  And they walk away.

Who is the Real Serpent in Eden?

 
It is intriguing how the attitudes and ways of the Hadza, described above, are what all our religions and psychologies and politics aspire to.  And their balance is what all our economists and environmentalists aspire to.
 
Once in a rare, rare while, a religious seeker considers that religion could actually be practiced, not just zealously talked about, and he or she renounces everything and discovers what the Hadza have known for eons.  Then, civilization's mobs ridicule and persecute him or her, and usually kill him or her.  Then, after he or she is conveniently ripened into the past, when it no longer takes courage to believe him or her, civilization's same mobs  swoon around him/her.  Yes, they make an icon of him/her, claim him/her as civization's foundation, starting yet another lip-service religion in his or her name!  How tragically, ironically comical!

We do this with individuals and with whole populations.  We did this here in America with our own Native populations.  We persecuted and killed most of them, relegating the survivors to reservations.  Now we build tombs to their honor!  Look how we honor the dead ones now, naming our states and cities and sports teams after them, building statues of them and making movies about them!  Never mind that we still totally dishonor  the ones still alive, out of sight, out of mind, on reservations.  The mind of delusion loves everything but the Here and Now.  But there is nothing but Here and Now, meaning the mind of delusion has no love.  Delusion loves delusion, Reality loves Reality.  Mammon serves Mammon, Divine serves Divine.

We worship tombs and we become what we worship.  We prop up and worship the Cross.
 
When I visited missionaries of my own "Christian" evangelical denomination in the jungle in Ecuador, all the sudden my eyes were open: missionaries were doing exactly the opposite of what Jesus taught.  The missionary taught them how to work for money and accumulate possessions.  Jesus clearly taught working for God rather than money and giving up possessions.  When you do the opposite of somebody, you are anti-that-somebody, no?  Anti-Christ.  This revelation astonished me, sent a chill through me in that hot jungle.
 
Most governments the world over love missionaries.  Missionaries tame wild people, teach them to possess, teach them money, sedate people so they can be cogs in commercial civilization's machinery.  Ironically, anybody who has read the Gospels of the Bible knows that Jesus clearly taught giving up possessions, and taught that we must give and do, expecting nothing in return, that we must act not for the sake of self-credit (money).  {See Here's the One Point We Know the World's Religions Agree Upon in the website}
 
According to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus himself says:
 
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees,* hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one convert, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.
(Matthew 23:15)
 
*[Pharisee, by the way, is a term meaning and sharing the same root as separitist, also sharing the same root as Puritan.  Such separatists are the zealous holders of the letter of scripture of every age, called "the people of the Book" in Islam.] 
 
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