The essays in this wonderful collection were written for the celebrated Massy Series for CBC. Davis looks to the San tribe who live in the Kalahari desert, as how our ancestors lived before they migrated out of Africa and spread out over the world. The Kahari is one of the most hostile environments in the world. “In English we have 31 sounds. The San have 141, a cacaphony of clicks and cadence that many linguists believe echos the very birth of our language.”
In Australia: “Knowing the extraordinary reach of the Aboriginal mind, the sublets of their thoughts and philosophy and the evocative power of their rituals it is chilling to think of this reservoir of human potential, wisdom, intuition, and insight that very nearly ran dry during those terrible days of death and conflagration.”
“Genocide, the physical extermination of a people, is universally condemned. Ethnocide, the destruction of a people’s way of life, is sanctioned and endorsed as appropriate development policy.” In Borneo, “Penan explicitly perceive wealth as the strength of social relations among people.”
“Canada is leading the way, not only as a model of a successful multicultural country, but a s nation-state prepared to acknowledge past mistakes and seek appropriate means of restitution in a pluralistic society. I am reminded of this every time I travel in Nunavut which is now under the administration of the Inuit people.”
Wade Davis points out that ancient peoples lived on Earth for millennia without destroying it. So why can’t we? “By their very existence, the diverse cultures of the world bear witness to the folly of those who say we cannot change, as we all know we must, the fundamental manner in which we inhabit this planet.”
A wonderful book. A must read!