Week 3 – From Trust to Domination
From Trust to Domination
The Cree example on page 7 seems less like the archetypal example of a hunter gatherer society and more like a typical religion. They believe in certain things that happen divinely (animals presenting themselves), they believe they must perform certain duties (treat the animals correctly post death, don’t kill unnecessarily), and if they fail in these duties they will be punished (animals stop presenting themselves). In addition, as a result of these beliefs everyone in the society benefits, similarly to the way that religion has been used in the past as a sort of control mechanism against chaos.
The whole notion of trust is romantic and all, but what happens in the hard times? If a drought comes and the vegetation dies, how would a gathering society come to terms with the sudden lack of trust presented by nature as evidenced by no longer being given bountiful food? And once trust is broken it’s usually very hard to reform, so does that mean that once a group hits some rough times with regards to food procurement that whole belief system ends? The author goes into it a bit with regards to confidence, but it seems to me that if 90% of a tribe is killed off during rough environmental times, the confidence and trust of the remaining 10% would be shattered.
I’m not sure if I agree with the animals presenting themselves bit necessarily being root in spirituality. You might be right, but the interpretation I had was more psychological. Probably because I’m a psychology major.
I interpreted “animals presenting themselves” as a reversal of the way we usually perceive things. For example, if you’re walking toward a tree, you would describe the situation as “I am moving closer to the tree.” However, from the perspective Einstein would take with Relativity, it is equally accurate to say “The tree is moving closer to me.” It just depends on the point of reference. I interpreted “animals presenting themselves” as a switching of the point of reference. In other words, the hunter may be attributing his discovery of an animal to the environment, not to his own choices/behaviors. In the Western world we typically attribute what happens to us and what we stumble upon to ourselves and our own decisions, but this is not necessarily an accurate interpretation of the world.
I could be wrong though. Your theory sounds equally plausible.
I love this insight, Tanner! I think any time we can interrogate our assumptions about the universality and validity of our perceptions we’re more likely to appreciate the nuances of reality and discover some truly extraordinary things about human-animal (and human-human) relationships.