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« Becoming a rich black nation: Are we not rich already? | Main | Interesting moves by a fresh prime minister. We wish him well »

22 June 2019


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Paul Oates

If you think tribalism has disappeared in so-called western culture Philip, just look at last night's State of Origin clash.

Cultural differences are sometimes subliminal in practice but still rule the human race.

Those that seek to rise to power often appeal to this part of our DNA to stir up allegiance with notions of nationalism and even sometimes seek fanatical adherence.

Philip Kai Morre

The PNG worldview is mixed up with empirical science, spiritualism and personalism.

Scientific and medical knowledge was lacking to explain the cause and effect of sickness and the treatment of diseases.

People looked for someone to blame for the cause of deaths, sicknesses and accidents. Even natural causes were attributed to witchcraft, black magic and causes by evil spirits etc.

The cultural values and norms control behaviour and regulate ethics or morality but was rather remote and isolated.

Frequent violence and immorality was experienced but was solved immediately by the people themselves creating peace and harmony among individuals and the community.

In PNG people were more organised into groups like families, extended families, sub-clans, clans, tribes and language groups which made it easier for kiaps to do their work effectively.

Social stratification and the hierarchical structure of our society was found and there was a chain of command and authority from leaders to common people.

Every person belonged to a sub-clan, clan and tribe with identity, recognition, values, and standing in the community.

In the white men's world cultural identity and ethnic grouping seemed to disappear in the midst of modernisation.

Migration to other countries created a cultural or traditional vacuum except for people like the Jews who kept their traditions and identify alive wherever they went.

Philip Fitzpatrick

Couple of points Chris.

I think that 'baby boomers' refers to the children born just after WW2 and up to the early 1960s.

That makes us baby boomers and our teachers, who were born 20+ years previously, something else, maybe children of the Depression.

Also, Papua New Guinea is not entirely free of "irrational beliefs over demonstrable facts" because much of the population is religious. Perhaps not so much of the "batshit crazy" kind but adherents nevertheless.

In the companion article above I note that James Marape's goal of a rich, black and Christian nation is very problematic.

Much of the Pacific region is religious, it fits in well with their older traditional beliefs and by and large it is a good thing.

I think it's an evolutionary phase in the regions intellectual development which will one day pass and be replaced by a thinking secular society with a strong ethical bias.

In our society I think that the fanatical, crazy vegans and the rabid anti-Adani, ban coal mob etc. are harbingers of this new secular ethics.

Something really significant happened in the last few days too. Donald Trump pulled a strike on Iran because he didn't want to kill anyone. Hopefully its not another of his lies.

If it's true it's a significant step.

Footnote: The generation preceding the 'baby boomers' is known as the Silent Generation, presumably because it was rendered mute by being born in the hard times of the Great Depression and World War II. I am one of it, but the silent bit failed to take root - KJ

Paul Oates

A good expose Chris. Thanks for the inspiration to do some collective navel gazing.

The essence of human nature is that the more you scratch the surface, the more it all starts to look the same.

From the earliest recorded history, and I refer to cave and rock paintings, it would appear that humans have believed in the supernatural in order to explain what they don't or can't understand.

When we first went to PNG we were amazed at how PNG societies were able to maintain order without the use of a police force. We now know that a plethora of spiritual beliefs and customs kept traditional PNG people in line, possibly far more rigidly than our so called modern societies can do now.

It seems as if humans can't manage without some cause or creed to follow. Sometimes even the claim that they have no beliefs is an acceptable alternative.

Human societies either have an accepted code of ethics or they tend to lapse back into chaos. It isn't hard to imagine therefore, that in order to advance past an extended family group, human societies must have some collective beliefs. This tendency clearly developed as part of our evolving DNA in a recognition of a Darwinian process that tends to favour the fittest in order to survive.

So perhaps PM Marape is correct and that PNG needs some form of objective or mantra to aim for, so that progressive achievement can in fact be measured against it?

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