More peaceful peoples

I’m showcasing some selections from the Encyclopedia of Peaceful Societies at the new website Peaceful Societies: Alternatives to Violence and War. See yesterday’s post for more details.

When projects are proposed or group work is underway, Hutterites are highly respectful of each other. Older men whose pace of work may slow down the operation are respected; when young, inexperienced boys join in the work they are not resented. In group discussions, everyone is highly conscious of rank and quite cautious about advancing proposals; suggestions will be made passively, many proposals considered, and since ideas are not attributed to specific individuals, the group as a whole becomes the author of the proposal that is decided upon. Everyone shares in the decision-making and identifies with the result.

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The Ifaluk do not often discipline their children with physical punishment–they prefer lecturing to spanking. They fear that children who are hit could “go crazy,” kill themselves, or become aggressive. They teach their children proper values when they are about five or six, and they display song [justifiable anger] whenever the child misbehaves and metagu, fear, in the presence of strangers. To reinforce the feelings of metagu, adults teach children that a ghost will “get them” if they misbehave. Sometimes, one of the women, dressed up in a ghost costume, appears menacingly near the home threatening to eat the wayward child. The terrorized child quickly associates its antisocial and aggressive actions with its metagu and with the parents’ song.

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The [Utkuhikhalik and Qipisa] Inuit use a form of “benevolent aggression” to foster positive social relationships. They develop ambivalence in their children toward love and fear by acting aggressively at the same time they are loving them–by overfeeding them, by roughly cleaning them while they nurse, and so on. They believe these approaches strengthen children by making them independent and by inculcating uncertainty and caution in their attitudes toward human relationships…. They play games with the child’s feelings by suggesting hostile and aggressive actions to help create their opposite, the positive, loving emotions. Why don’t you keep a choice piece of food all for yourself, one woman suggested to a three-year old, or “Why don’t you kill your baby brother?”

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Most Ju/’hoansi (pronounced zhut-wasi) were nomadic hunters and gatherers until the latter part of the 20th century. Since they live in a very hostile desert environment, they had to keep moving in order to keep eating, since food and water resources are sparse. Unlike people in other arid regions, they did not have any periods of plenty and thus they had no way of storing food supplies. But since food shortages were likely to be localized, they reduced risk through widespread pooling networks and through the social solidarity of their local groups. In essence, the group’s peaceful cohesiveness was its stored surplus.

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Kadar society has traditionally accorded equality to the sexes but these beliefs are fast being weakened due to the influence of the surrounding Indian society. Wage labor opportunities are available primarily for men, and when a man is able to afford a sari for his wife, she wears it in order to avoid the stigma of being naked above the waist. Since the clothing may prevent her from foraging in the forest, she becomes increasingly dependent on her husband and his job, losing her independence. Furthermore, the social stigma against bare-chested women has produced an attitude of servility by the women toward outsiders; they feel they have to hurriedly cover their breasts whenever they pass outsiders.

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Because of the harsh mountain environment of Ladakh, helpfulness and cooperation among families is essential for survival. The Ladakhis establish cooperative groups called phasphuns, in which several unrelated families maintain alliances of friendship, cooperation, and helpfulness. If both parents in a family would die, other adults in the phasphun would adopt the young children. If a family separates, the other members of the phasphun make a fair division of the property. The families in the phasphun usually live in the same village, participate in group religious ceremonies, and worship a common god, though they are not necessarily neighbors and are often not related. The mutual cooperation is carried out under the aegis of the ruling deity, who provides the link for the six to ten families in the group.

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Love, for the Buddhist Lepchas, is based on the satisfaction of mutual needs for food. When youngsters are asked if they love their parents, they will respond that they do because they are well fed. A young man admitted that he did not get along well with his new wife at first, but then he realized that when he came back to the house after a day of work and she had food ready for him, he loved her. He said, “this is my wife and I am pleased in my belly.”

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While Malapandaram women gather vegetable foods, haul water, find firewood, and do the cooking, men normally do the hunting and harvesting of wild honey. The divisions are not rigid, however: men may help gather firewood and assist with cooking meat, while women may help hunt small animals. The simplicity of their gathering and hunting economy fosters individual self-sufficiency and economic independence, so social relationships tend to be based on positive feelings rather than economic dependence. Marriage for the Malapandaram is an extremely loose monogamous convention: they do not emphasize long-term, binding relationships. Spouses often exhibit quite warm feelings toward one another–but when the warmth cools, the relationship ends.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

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