The path from living as indigenous people to Western societies and “back”…

An opinion about indigenous people and their development:

When we look at how indigenous people developed, how they fit into modern societies, how the people feel themselves is difficult to assess.

But we cannot say that just because they live close to nature they were peaceful, benevolent people. The Maoris in New Zealand for example were very war-like people for whom seasonal war was a part of life. Once the potatoes were introduced, they had time for full-time wars, the introduction of firearms made killing easier and more extensive.

In my experience, people living close to Nature were happy to transfer to civilized life and adopted very quickly.

We all started as “indigenous people”, and then through the inevitable egoistic development — since human history is nothing else but the chronicle of the ever-growing selfish, human ego — we are all becoming more individualistic, harmful towards each other and nature.

Each nation and individual have their own “timeline”, the pace of development, the jump when the ego becomes sharp and obvious happens differently in everybody.

But the process cannot be stopped, suppressed, and in the end in order to prevent our individual and collective self-destruction we all need to learn how to harness, tame, channel the ego towards positive, collective, constructive goals, purpose.

In our intentions, aspirations we will have to become like the original indigenous people — “nature-like” — but on top of, against the exponentially grown ego, achieving a unique duality, a tension that can make us truly Human.

As a sideways note, regarding the “quick adaptation” of indigenous people to “civilized life,” I have differing opinions. What you described is how we would prefer to see it from our Western point of view.

First of all, we could argue why exactly our Western life is “civilized”, how it is better than living closer to nature. Maybe another time.

More importantly, those who were colonized by Western powers did not “adapt” at their own pace, they were forced to adapt and in most cases, this forced “adaptation” caused terrible mental, physical harm to the indigenous people. They adapt as they have no other choice, but they do not find their place in Western society as they did not have time to go through such development by themselves, they are forced to compete with the colonizers and in that respect, they always lose.

This is very sharp and obvious in countries like New Zealand or Australia for example.

Of course, we Westerners fool ourselves that we did good to these people and they had all the possibilities to adapt and become “like us”, but by that, we only disclose how much we do not know human nature, human development, but we justify ourselves nevertheless.

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Zsolt Hermann

I am a Hungarian-born Orthopedic surgeon presently living in New Zealand, with a profound interest in how mutually integrated living systems work.