Tuesday, December 21, 2004

The Noble Savage

If modern humans have been around for about 150,000 years as anthropologists suspect, then for less that 4 percent of that time has there been evidence of significant social stratification.

While there almost certainly was some minor difference in standards of living, people were more or less "equal."

During the last 4 percent of modern human history there has been an explosion of social divergence which has led to extreme gaps in standards of living. The disparity contributes in no small way to the amount of instability and conflict seen in our world.

The ancient way of life was a simple one and probably much more democratic. Rosseau spoke of the "Noble Savage" and Marx admired the Iroquois and other indigenous nations for their equality.

The traditionalists among the Nusantao must have seen the increasing trade competition as a formula for world conflict. Greed after all is more infectious than any disease.

The Nusantao, like all Austronesians, were keen observers of nature. The Chinese texts relate this quality among the Dong Yi, and Fu Hsi was said to have studied natural phenomenon. The Austronesian mariner was a keen observer of the weather, ocean conditions, migratory birds, etc. as such observation was essential to survival.

They looked also for signs from the spirit world. They had binary divination systems which they used to inquire about personal matters and possibly also cosmic matters. These systems include the dice divination of the Ayta and the knot divination of the Caroline chain.

Fu Hsi's trigrams were based on the idea that weather patterns are similar to patterns of human events. For the Nusantao, the dualistic eruption in nature could have meant only one thing.

For the traditionalists among them, the cosmic balance had been disrupted. A cycle had been started that had only one possible conclusion.

Paul Kekai Manansala