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02 November 2015


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Very interesting Phil and this debate is close to my family right now. I realise you are talking about cultural difference, not basic humanity.

After all, we all share the same DNA and all experience the basic realities of the human condition - love, hate, lust, generosity, family, the imperative to survive and grow (although I find it hard to understand how anyone with a basic sense of humanity can justify death, atrocity and torture in the name of religious belief, whether this be due to a twisted interpretation of Islam or Christianity or an obsession with sanguma).

But of course all cultures have their unique approach to life based on tradition, belief, shared experience and imagination. This is a bit like the decoration on a cake. Underneath are the same basic ingredients, but on top is a glorious cacophony of different interpretations of how to deal with life.

I have just had a very personal experience of this. Rose had a difficult reaction to her chemo today - sweating, pain and panic. I was about to call the ambulance and take her to hospital, but Mana said "No, I can deal with this. Get me some ice and cold water."

And so she spent half an hour rubbing ice on Rose's forehead, massaging her body with cold water and singing Kuman songs. After a while Rose got up and said "I'm OK, what's all the fuss about?" And she was OK.

Now a scientist or academic might wax lyrical about psychosomatic conditions and the power of TLC, but I reckon it was the cool touch of home and family and the reassuring music of Kuman singing which helped her. I couldn't do this, but Mana knew how.

So deep down we are all human, but when it comes to our culture (kastom) we all have amazing and important differences. And no one can say any approach is more important than our neighbours.

This is an interesting insight that I never thought to consider. I suppose it's just the way we (PNGns) are.

Interesting use of the idiom "fighting fire with fire" - I reckon this will work and this would seem sooner than expected.

Great insight, Phil.

Phil Fitzpatrick writes - "We are more interested in the here and now and the future while Papua New Guineans are more conscious of the past."

This reminds me of the contrast between Pidgin and English in the description of the past and the future.

Taim bipo - is not the future before you but the past behind you.

Bihain taim - is not the past behind you but the future before you.

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