Thursday, November 22, 2018

Restless Natives

There are some news stories which leave me utterly flabbergasted.  This week, the one which has left my gast utterly flabbered is that story about the American guy who was killed by natives on the Sentinel Islands in the Indian Ocean.  Apparently he died in a hail of arrows when he landed on the beach, before his body - which still hasn't been recovered - was dragged off by the natives.  At first he was described as a 'tourist', which made me think that this had happened in or near some popular tourist location, which would have been pretty shocking.  But now it has emerged that he was some kind of crazy preacher who wanted to 'convert' the natives to Christianity and that the natives were on an isolated island which is off-limits to all outsiders.  At which point, any sympathy I might have had for him dissipated completely.  What is it with these people that they can't even leave alone the remotest tribes in the world?  It surely can only be arrogance which motivates someone to think that a people who have quite happily been living their lives without outside interference for centuries need to have someone else's religion rammed down their throats?  What makes them think that the end result will be anything other than a re-enactment of a seventies Italian cannibal movie? 

Even if had simply been a tourist, as first reported, his actions in landing on he island would have been idiotic in the extreme.  There are good reasons why the island and its inhabitants are off-limits to outsiders:  for one thing, their centuries of isolation make them vulnerable to even common diseases, for another, their isolation means that exposure to outsiders could have catastrophic consequences for their culture.  But hey, it seems such considerations are irrelevant for the religious crazies who just can't bear to accept that people might be perfectly happy without Jesus in their lives.  The fact that these people have lived their lives perfectly happily for centuries without any outside contact means nothing to the missionaries, it seems.  But it isn't just a matter of religious arrogance, it is all part of an arrogant belief that modern Western 'civilisation' represents some kind of pinnacle of human development and that everyone must be made to feel its 'benefits'.  The fact is that, historically, we're just another way station in history, which, like its predecessors, will one day wane and fade away, to be replaced by something else.  Moreover, who is to say that our Western lifestyle is 'superior'?  Sure, we enjoy the benefits of advances in medical science and technology, but these don't come without costs.  There was an interesting study recently, which indicated that remote Amazonian tribes who had had little contact with 'civilisation' enjoyed much lower stress levels than those that had regular interactions with the outside world.  So, clearly, if I want to get my stress levels down I'm going to have to go and live in a mud hut in the remotest part of the Amazon rain forest that I can find...



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