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We of the industrialised countries have a tremendous amount to gain from the tribal peoples of the world, concerning problems of our era.

I spent some time visiting the Turkanas and Digos of Kenya recently -
my experiences have been primarily in Africa
I realised 2 things -

firstly, that our knowledge of ancient societies, and our level of contact with them, are extremely small -
and when they occasionally happen, it is with great cultural bias and a presumption of superiority by the visitor (NGOs, government representatives, corporate staff, churches ..)
secondly, that many of the core topics of today in the industrialised world (environment, conflict and human social connection) are
- in some cases - managed far more successfully by these
ancient societies -

but there are of course many nuances and downsides in this story -
it is not black and white

I propose that we should have friendly, equal interaction with these peoples in a careful way that does not disrupt their lives -
as a way of pursuing our own search for what is right and what we want
in the West

and we should absolutely not allow these societies to disappear
a little a time - we should rather protect them from threats to their way of life, and get to know them better

Pinkers rapid dismissal of the 'myth' of social harmony in tribal societies
is merely a symptom of the fact that 'we' barely know 'them' at all,
and have extremely little reliable information -
for myself, and for 2 of your TED speakers, it is easy to distinguish
between those who have had close contact with tribal peoples,
and those who have not, like Pinker

it is true that for any normal person, a real personal contact with them
is not easy to arrange - there is travel, there is finding a personal introduction, and survival in areas without shops or hotels

I maintain that nothing has ever been more worth the effort -
and that there is no substitute for the real thing -
films, books and talks cannot convey the experience

The nearest I can come is that it changes you permanently,
and as Pinker says "everything you thought before was wrong"

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    Dec 31 2012: Paul, how exactly did you visit the Turkanas and Digos? Wouldn't there have been a language barrier? Not speaking the language, it would be extremely hard to understand the culture?
    • Jan 1 2013: Quite right Greg - with the Turkanas I broke the habit of a lifetime and took a guide -
      he is an urban Turkana and a personal friend

      Furthermore, it turns out the language is only a small barrier - and that the cultural difference
      is the real challenge, or the real 'language difference'

      Since my fourth visit to the Interior, I start to get accustomed to their ways and rhythms -
      it is infinitely rich, highly developed - a true civilisation
      I have never enjoyed, or gained so much, as I do with this growing friendship with these people

      the truth is, it could take more than a lifetime to really understand their culture
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        Jan 3 2013: I would leave you with this clip the greatest speech ever!
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WibmcsEGLK. this is where we are heading to as a society we have reach a turning point and its time to love, for the greatest is love… with all my heart to humanity.
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          Jan 3 2013: Cliff,
          I tried to connect with the link you provided and it says this video does not exist.
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      Jan 1 2013: Greg and Paul,
      I have had "conversations" with people around the world when we do not speak each others language. Language is about 67% body language I think. We can understand each other with a lot of gestures, facial expressions, a few words, etc.....don't you think?
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        Jan 3 2013: We're hearing voices from everywhere saying humans are getting worse and worse at communicating, but one sort of 'eerie' thing I can't help noticing is that it seems I understand subtle body language better than my mother, and better still than my grandmother. I believe, while humans are getting worse at worse at linguistic communication (and believe me, as a writer, I'm saddened by that), the hidden, untold story is that we're getting better at non-verbal communication; by we I mean those of us living the the hyper-civilized world: cities and big towns, although small towns -- because of the internet -- are being increasingly exposed and a bit indoctrinated to mainstream culture.
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          Jan 3 2013: Hello neighbor LA Hall! I am in northern Vt:>)

          I think to understand body language, one needs to be open minded, open hearted, really listening and hearing with all the senses and be totally present and engaged in the interaction....don't you think?

          It seems that there may be so much distraction in big cities, we may not be able to focus as well with communications?
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        Jan 4 2013: Collen I think the greatest connector out there is love; that which is capable of uniting stranger and make a family out of them if we extrapolate that ONE LOVE into our human family, there wont be strangers any strangers in amongs us anymore…. more so in our humanity we are more connected in more ways then we can ever imagine when we just love one another.
        try this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WibmcsEGLKo and let me know what you think
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          Jan 5 2013: Hi Cliff,
          I was able to access the video with this link....thanks. The video offers many good ideas, and honestly, I'm not very fond of the way it is presented, because I do not believe that "fighting" for a new world is the answer. More "fighting" is not going to end "fighting" in my humble perception.

          I wholeheartedly agree Cliff, that the greatest connector is love...that which connects strangers as you insightfully say....unconditional love of each other. I agree that we are more the same than different...we all share the same feelings and emotions, most people want to love and be loved, and we all share this earth.

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