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Old 12-03-2019, 13:00   #1
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The morality of interactions with the locals

The owners of cruising boats tend as a rule to be relatively wealthy by the standards of their home countries. In turn, they come from some of the most prosperous nations of the world.


The economic disparity between cruisers and those they encounter ashore in more remote areas is stark. Stories abound from 10 or 20 years ago of people trading flashlight batteries or tobacco for fish, woodcarvings, or meals that are worth tens or perhaps hundreds of times more.


Do you believe your interactions and trades have a positive influence on others? Do you leave every island a better place than it was when you arrived? What steps do you take to be sure you're dealing with the locals in a respectful and uplifting way?
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Old 12-03-2019, 13:28   #2
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Re: The morality of interactions with the locals

When you receive something for your time / labor and it benefits you, how do you feel about it?

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Old 12-03-2019, 14:04   #3
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Re: The morality of interactions with the locals

Defining "positive" and "better" is a sticky wicket. Much of what influences that definition is relative. Example: for missionairies it means putting another indigenous culture on the road to anihilation, my definition is the polar opposite. Whats your definition?

For me "positive" & "better" mean doing things which help peoples situation in life without turning them into dependents or overtly trying to change them or their culture (any interaction brings at least a small degree of change though). I think the best ways to do this are by assisting with healthcare, education, and creating employement/trade opportunities.

Respect I think is easier to define. We do our best to be respectful of indigenous/local cultures. We respect their norms, rules, and culture and dont try to impose ours...after all we are guests...not the great white overloads come to tell them what is "best" for them.

We do buy/trade with locals, since it helps support their local economy.

We also help out locals as we feel appropriate. I do not like to give cash, though sometimes its the only practical option. I prefer to help in other ways: pay directly for needed supplies, healthcare, education, or provide employement even if only for a day. I try to help in ways that will improve people's situation and not just create a dependent. I dont give to charities, I prefer direct personal assistance. I also dont help those who are clearly just looking for a hand out. I prefer to help those who have some capacity to use that assistance to then help themselves.

In general thats how we try to conduct ourselves.This combination of respect and hopefully wise assistance has paid off with major intangible benefits to us. We have made deep local friendships in several countries, seen peoples lives imporve, seen kid's health & educational levels improve. And had locals return the respect and show deep appreciation for what we've done.

As a result, in addition to many friends of major races, we have many indigenous friends too...like Mayan friends in Guatemala and Ngäbe & Kuna friends in Panama.

Tonight we have been invited to dinner at a Kuna friend's home in appreciation of education expenses assistance we recently provided them. Their home is a thatch hut with a dirt floor, and the food will be very basic, but it is a priceless experience.
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Old 12-03-2019, 14:24   #4
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Re: The morality of interactions with the locals

Maybe I am just too young or don't go to places like the Andamans, but most places in the 3rd world I was asked 3x the realistic price for just about everything... OK, coconuts were free...
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Old 12-03-2019, 14:39   #5
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Re: The morality of interactions with the locals

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Maybe I am just too young or don't go to places like the Andamans, but most places in the 3rd world I was asked 3x the realistic price for just about everything... OK, coconuts were free...
Not in Guna Yala they're not!

Here in Central America we call getting overtly over charged being "gringo'ed". I just turn my back on anyone who is clearly just trying to rip me off. No respect = no sale.
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Old 12-03-2019, 14:49   #6
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Re: The morality of interactions with the locals

We try to be careful not to attempt to change the culture or ways of the locals we visit, especially when in Canada and California.

Many island peoples have a culture of sharing everything with the family. Not unlike western culture. They just define family as pretty much everyone who is there. So while we might think that a request for our diving gear is closer to begging, they might preceive it as normal sharing. Individual cruisers aren't going to make any significant difference to island cultures. It is when the cruiser and tourist volume gets large that local customs are supplanted with short term financial gain motives.
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Old 12-03-2019, 15:14   #7
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Re: The morality of interactions with the locals

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammer View Post
The economic disparity between cruisers and those they encounter ashore in more remote areas is stark. Stories abound from 10 or 20 years ago of people trading flashlight batteries or tobacco for fish, woodcarvings, or meals that are worth tens or perhaps hundreds of times more.

Worth is subjective and totally dependent on the circumstances.


If both sides were happy with the trade, then the fish, woodcarvings, meals were worth exactly the same as the flashlight batteries, tobacco etc in that place at that time.
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Old 12-03-2019, 16:01   #8
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Re: The morality of interactions with the locals

Treat them with respect, be kind and considerate.

They are your hosts, paying more for your supplies than they do should never be a source of friction.

If you really know the local culture and language enough to haggle, then do so always in a low key friendly manner, not aggro or confrontational.
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Old 12-03-2019, 18:00   #9
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Re: The morality of interactions with the locals

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Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
...
Tonight we have been invited to dinner at a Kuna friend's home in appreciation of education expenses assistance we recently provided them. Their home is a thatch hut with a dirt floor, and the food will be very basic, but it is a priceless experience.
Back from dinner. Another great local experience. Food was as expected very basic: fried plantains & bread, we brought pasta salad which was a big hit...fancy food for the Kuna. They gave us small gifts of local handicrafts.

This is part of what we really enjoy about cruising, you get to interact with the locals in more genuine ways that tourists do not.
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Old 12-03-2019, 18:22   #10
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Re: The morality of interactions with the locals

Just remember the Prime Directive....
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Old 12-03-2019, 18:38   #11
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pirate Re: The morality of interactions with the locals

Dont rub their noses in it.. Simple..!!!
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Old 12-03-2019, 18:46   #12
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Re: The morality of interactions with the locals

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Just remember the Prime Directive....
Apparently there are some "loopholes" in the Prime Directive:

https://scifi.stackexchange.com/ques...irk-slept-with
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Old 12-03-2019, 18:53   #13
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Re: The morality of interactions with the locals

So is it morally right for us in the first world to decide for these people that they should continue to live at subsistence level, with the attendant short lifespan, infant mortality, disease, poor nutrition, etc, etc.... just because we like visiting (but wouldn't want to live there) different cultures?
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Old 12-03-2019, 19:52   #14
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Re: The morality of interactions with the locals

In most cases "we" dont make that decision. There are many indigenous who choose to continue to live their traditional lifestyle. Or at least wish to, provided "we" dont slaughter them and steal their lands first.

The Kuna here in the San Blas actively make that choice. They have made great efforts to sustain their traditional lifestyle. Unlike most indigenous, who "we" have systematically mostly wiped from the face of the earth, they have been largely successful...partly they've just been lucky.


There are also Kuna who choose to live in Panama City.
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Old 12-03-2019, 19:54   #15
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Re: The morality of interactions with the locals

At the level of individual behaviour, refraining from actively changing their culture is certainly a good start.

**If** (some definition of) "we" had sufficient available resources "we" were willing to contribute to improve their physical well-being

exactly what that would entail, how those benefits would be distributed etc

should as much as possible be decided by the recipients themselves, within the context of their current social arrangements.

Seems very unlikely, and inherently problematic.
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