Only the men and women of a single culture write here of the meaning of life. It’s a culture seven billion strong, unified by access to a global system of interconnected computer networks. Many of these billions are unaware that we share the planet with hundreds of other cultures. India alone is home to 75 hunting-gathering peoples categorized by the Constitution of India as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (previously known as Primitive Tribal Groups). Other such peoples are named below by region; all are silent, having no access to that “global system of interconnected computer networks”; all are the remnants of tens of thousands of “Primitive Tribal Groups” that have been trampled into extinction by the march of our culture across the face of the earth (memorable to recent history being those natives of the Americas). “Particularly Vulnerable,” all live everywhere on the verge of being extinguished by the immense forces wielded by the seven billion of us who want their land for crops, forage, oil, and other resources.
You see here more than 500 visitors who belong to our planet’s ruling culture, responsible for bringing into existence a Sixth Extinction as dire as the Fifth, which carried off 75% of all species alive at that time. You see here what these visitors alone have to say about the meaning of life, describing it in terms that are in fact rarely evidenced in the “real” world.
Among hundreds of other vulnerable tribal groups around the world are the Maasai, the Tuareg, the Lugbara, the Makonde, the Tutsi, and the Mbouti and Ba-Bejellé pygmies of Africa; the Chukchi and Yukaghirs of Siberia, the Yup’ik and Cup’ik of Alaska; the Khoid of Mongolia; the Enga and Bosavis of Papua New Guinea; the Pitupi, the Tiwi, the Alawa, the Gebusi, Nduidui, the Mekeo, the Kilenge, the Tangu, the Mendi, the Elema, the Lardil, the Trobriands of Australia; the Kreen-Akrore, the Yanomami, the Kalapalo, and the Tupí-Guaraní of South America.
I come here to ask: What would these hundreds of “Particularly Vulnerable” peoples think of what is written here, compared to what they actually see being ENACTED here? I personally believe they would see that the meaning of life for the people of our culture is unlimited growth and the acquisition of wealth and power (rather than the noble, selfless, and spiritual virtues generally described here). Invite Donald Trump and Bill Gates to describe for us the meaning of THEIR lives!
In the “over 500 interviews” found here, I note two with native American backgrounds: flutist Charles Littleleaf, who sells his handmade flutes on the Internet, and Ed McGaa, who has a law degree and served in the Marines in Korea. Among the missing are authors Leslie Marmon Silko, Sherman Alexie, Adrian C. Louis, N. Scott Momaday, and Vine Deloria, who wrote: “When ecologists find a predictable life-span of a generation separating us from total extinction, it would seem that we have a duty to search for another interpretation of mankind’s life story.”
~Daniel Quinn is an American writer, cultural critic, and former publisher of educational texts, best known for his novel Ishmael, which won the Turner Tomorrow Fellowship Award in 1991.
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