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Old 10-04-2012, 17:38   #316
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Re: The Philosophy behind Sailing Simply and cheaply

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Actually we HAVE seen the result. A primitive but stable culture of living off the land in small family units and low crime rate becomes a third world cesspool where the main industries become Bars and prostitution, and with the family structure destroyed theft and drugs become the norm.

Even giving money, and modern gadgets unbalances these societies. As it draws a line between those who have these items and those who don't, and the only way to get them is further interaction with unprincipled tourists, that often take advantage of naive young natives who don't realize the relative low value of these items.

I haven't personally traveled to polynesia yet, but I have read accounts of those who have been there decades ago and compaired them to recent trips.

They have universally stated the Islanders lives haven't been much improved by constant exposure to the Least common denomenator of western culture.
agh the poor but noble savage theory. Mind you for students of history exactly the same view was once expressed in 19th century Ireland.

Imm sorry its virtually immoral, to suggest that you should live in luxury, while those elsewhere live in poverty on the back of it. The very violent history of the South seas, is a testament to continous explotation by the white western man and the destruction of their culture by white missionaries. Our "modern" cultures couldn't exist without exploiting other nations for labor, resources or what not. ( and we started wars to ensure access). Our greatest challenge is despite us, other nations have a foothold, perhaps the time is coming when we will be the exploited. hmmmm.

Once you allow such white men out of their own countries, the only thing that protects indigious cultures is to rapidly bring up to comparable levels. Other wise they will either become a (1) zoo or (2) stripped of anything valuable like land, minerals,etc. So called primitive societies that wised up can dictate their destinies, keeping them "poor and native" cannot.

Sorry we can not turn back progress or neuter most Western white men. Anyway the Chineese are all over these third world places.

We cannot recreate 1700s again. its gone.

As a consequence I am never happy vacationing in countries significantly below average western standards. I want the native to eat in the same cafe as I do. I don't want to feel like a first world tourist in a third world economy. ( Having cruised the carribean, its leaves me very morally conflicted in places). When I visit a country where the locals can't shop in the shops I go in ( like supermarkets). I wonder whats up here.

it always amazes be , rich westerns haggling and complaining over market items that at home they'd pay 10 times as much...

The key is to share the progress, not try and keep it and exploit others to ensure we do. Altruistic sure ,

Dave
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Old 10-04-2012, 18:31   #317
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Re: The Philosophy behind Sailing Simply and cheaply

True, they may be no poor noble savages. But does a community have to be poor or noble to deserve our respect?

Do we like others to come around, mess up our world and tell us how to live? If not, then let's not do unto others what we do not want others to do unto us!

Let them be whatever they are, savage, poor and noble or otherwise. Take only pictures, leave only footprints. It doesn't take a lot of reading to understand what our civilization has done to the 'savages'.

'A weed is a plant to other plants. It is only us humans who gave it a bad name to justify our mercantile ends.'

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Old 10-04-2012, 18:45   #318
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Re: The Philosophy behind Sailing Simply and cheaply

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(...) The key is to share the progress, not try and keep it and exploit others to ensure we do. (...)
OK.

But in the real world, when we go places, we become the owners, bosses and rulers while local people become waiters and 'workforce'. It is indeed a very sad thing that our technological advancement far outreached our ethics.

The good news is that followers of the church of simplicity at least are finding such attitudes and views disputable. The bad news is we are in vast minority.

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Old 10-04-2012, 19:05   #319
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Re: The Philosophy behind Sailing Simply and cheaply

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OK.

But in the real world, when we go places, we become the owners, bosses and rulers while local people become waiters and 'workforce'. It is indeed a very sad thing that our technological advancement far outreached our ethics.

The good news is that followers of the church of simplicity at least are finding such attitudes and views disputable. The bad news is we are in vast minority.

b.
I agree but its not so black and white. I live in a semi-rural part of Thailand. Not the bush and not a big city, and of course I have more than the locals. But they aren't so pristine in the behavior, ethics, what have you. In some cases they just don't know better and in others they just don't seem to care or want anything better. We try to walk the line between imposing our Western views and standards and going with the local customs but its not easy and culture is dynamic not a static thing.

Believe it or not, the locals have iPhones sometimes too.
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Old 10-04-2012, 19:24   #320
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Re: The Philosophy behind Sailing Simply and cheaply

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(...) We try to walk the line between imposing our Western views and standards and going with the local customs but its not easy and culture is dynamic not a static thing. (...)
Yes, there is that huge gap between what we preach and what we actually can apply. My ideals of 'leaving them savages well alone' are not practical at all. Still, I look at things and ask myself: 'how can I act to minimize my civilizational footprint'?.

Simplicity is a state of mind and mind is dynamic not a static thing. It is as you said.

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Old 10-04-2012, 20:44   #321
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Re: The Philosophy behind Sailing Simply and cheaply

This discussion has taken an interesting turn. The idea that if we don't put ourselves in ____ culture somebody else will I find disputable. I also think that we can interact with a culture without damaging it. Case in point: We can go and vaccinate everyone in a tiny island in Vanuatu. We can cure Rheumatic fever and do a few other things, then go away. Other than looking forward to our visits, the culture remains the same. Now if we came in and decided to open a Potash plant on their land, or drill for oil, that will completely change their lives. But that is substituting one culture for another, not visiting and making sure you step lightly.

But in a way, I do have to say that the darkest visions of society are sometime correct. I was deep in the jungle one day, so deep that we would pass villages and they would all come out to the river because they had never seen a pale skinned person before. We pulled our dugouts to the side in one esp. pristine area, because I wanted to trade for a blow gun.
They greeted me kindly, but looked incredulous when I asked for a blow gun (through a guide) They no longer used blow guns, and proceeded to produce a number of shotguns they used for hunting...

Some tribes in the Amazon kill anyone they don't know. They still are wild and untouched. Starting to sound like a reasonable philosophy.
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Old 10-04-2012, 22:37   #322
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Re: The Philosophy behind Sailing Simply and cheaply

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Originally Posted by s/v Beth View Post
This discussion has taken an interesting turn. The idea that if we don't put ourselves in ____ culture somebody else will I find disputable. I also think that we can interact with a culture without damaging it. Case in point: We can go and vaccinate everyone in a tiny island in Vanuatu. We can cure Rheumatic fever and do a few other things, then go away. Other than looking forward to our visits, the culture remains the same. Now if we came in and decided to open a Potash plant on their land, or drill for oil, that will completely change their lives. But that is substituting one culture for another, not visiting and making sure you step lightly.

But in a way, I do have to say that the darkest visions of society are sometime correct. I was deep in the jungle one day, so deep that we would pass villages and they would all come out to the river because they had never seen a pale skinned person before. We pulled our dugouts to the side in one esp. pristine area, because I wanted to trade for a blow gun.
They greeted me kindly, but looked incredulous when I asked for a blow gun (through a guide) They no longer used blow guns, and proceeded to produce a number of shotguns they used for hunting...

Some tribes in the Amazon kill anyone they don't know. They still are wild and untouched. Starting to sound like a reasonable philosophy.
An interesting observation about the shotguns. They obviously prefer them so are we doing good or bad by selling them guns? Are we being holier than though by saying you need to stay the way your are, the way your culture is and not sell them because we think they are bad. Giving medical care seems like a no brainer, but isn't that what the missionaries did too? You can't touch something without changing it. You may not know how or what the chance is but its there and its inevitable because culture is just part of life and its is always changing.

Always best to treat lightly though since we just don't know??
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Old 10-04-2012, 23:07   #323
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Re: The Philosophy behind Sailing Simply and cheaply

Still reading, very interesting thread.
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Old 10-04-2012, 23:14   #324
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Re: The Philosophy behind Sailing Simply and cheaply

This is a tough question with no clear answer. For me and my boat, I think the more primitive a culture is, the more careful I will be around it. I have plenty of places to have a vacation in. I was faced with this in Panama a couple of months ago. Rather than support the industry that gave you tours of primitive local stone age villages, I elected not to go. If I go into that situation(again) it will be to do good and then leave.
The more knowledge you have, the greater the responsibility to others who don't have the knowledge or resources.
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Old 10-04-2012, 23:32   #325
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Re: The Philosophy behind Sailing Simply and cheaply

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This is a tough question with no clear answer. For me and my boat, I think the more primitive a culture is, the more careful I will be around it. I have plenty of places to have a vacation in. I was faced with this in Panama a couple of months ago. Rather than support the industry that gave you tours of primitive local stone age villages, I elected not to go. If I go into that situation(again) it will be to do good and then leave.
The more knowledge you have, the greater the responsibility to others who don't have the knowledge or resources.
The main danger of course, is the assumption that because people do not follow modern western norms, they are less intelligent or unaware.
There are remarkably intelligent people out there that neither want nor need western influences.
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Old 11-04-2012, 02:56   #326
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Re: The Philosophy behind Sailing Simply and cheaply

It is a very western concept to state that a society or culture is poor because they cant afford the material items that we can afford.

Materialism at its root is a western concept and is itself the detroyer of non-material cultures.

The belief that my culture is superior to your culture and the feelings of guilt and shame that accompany this lead us to try and "help" or "save" that culture. That is the dangerous path of the "White Mans Burden" or now more appropriately the "Western Worlds" burden...and that is a fools errand.

Most of the poverty we see is a direct result of missionary work or colonialism. One doesnt have to subscribe to the noble savage theory to realize that the Indigineous societies in the Caribbean, South Pacific, South America and Africa were vastly more stable and better off prior to contact.

If they hadnt been exploited but allowed to evolve intact through managed contact the world would be a richer place.

But alas that is not human nature, and we do the same things we did back then - we divide and conquer these cultures by pitting them against themselves and then offering the equivilent of beads for their resources.

The reason there is the need for cheap labour as mentioned above is exactly why we are dicussing the concept of simplicity...

...our culture rides on the back of others because of our voracious need to CONSUME...

...our need for endless CHOICE...

...our globally disproportionate consumption of resources...

...all could easily change by choosing a different path, a SIMPLER path.

In the mean time, I feel no guilt haggling with a local vendor, as it shows we are peers and respect the value of each other. And I do it day in and day out and sometimes share a beer with that vendor if a friendship develops, possibly have dinner at their house, and a year later attend a wedding of one of their sons. And the glass between us is broken, because I didnt try to save him, and he felt respected by me.
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Old 11-04-2012, 03:09   #327
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Re: The Philosophy behind Sailing Simply and cheaply

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This is a tough question with no clear answer. For me and my boat, I think the more primitive a culture is, the more careful I will be around it. I have plenty of places to have a vacation in. I was faced with this in Panama a couple of months ago. Rather than support the industry that gave you tours of primitive local stone age villages, I elected not to go. If I go into that situation(again) it will be to do good and then leave.
The more knowledge you have, the greater the responsibility to others who don't have the knowledge or resources.
This is a good point and the smae is happening with the Jarawa in the Andaman Islands. They are supposed to be protected but the very people doing the protection are the ones organizing visits into thier territories.
I think the North Sentinelese in the Andamans have the right idea. I believe the last contact was in the early 70's and the antropologists were chased off at spear point? They are completely left alone now and they dont even have an accurate census as it has to be done from boats at anchor with binoculars.

Possibly the last truly isolated tribal group in the world?

Wouldnt you love to go there?
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Old 11-04-2012, 06:15   #328
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Re: The Philosophy behind Sailing Simply and cheaply

I have no experience dealing with isolated human cultures. I do live in Northern Ontario where the impacts of European cultures (particularly our desire to "do good") is all too present in many of the First Nation's People of today. The idea of us, doing good (whether through medical interventions, or by "protecting" a less materialistic culture from the impacts of us) is well intentioned, and probably necessary in some cases, but it stirs within me the line I first heard at a medical history conference covering past atrocities:

"Be wary, especially of your best intentions."

The harm that has been done to less powerful cultures in the name of "doing good" is unknowable, but I suspect it has been more damaging than all the bullets and bombs ever used. And we (meaning the West) are still carrying forth "our burden" today as we continue to force our values on the rest of the world. We are reshaping the entire planet in our image -- and to our benefit.

Whether it be the person in front of me, or the land I travel through, respect is my guiding principle (my philosophy if you will). Treat people as you would want to be treated. Treat the land as something borrowed, not owned. The limited work I've done with the Anishinaabe People of Northern Ontario has taught me to listen and to learn, and then to listen some more. I find it hard to do sometimes ... but I am learning.
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Old 11-04-2012, 06:25   #329
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Re: The Philosophy behind Sailing Simply and cheaply

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... The more knowledge you have, the greater the responsibility to others who don't have the knowledge or resources.
I don't think you'd get universal agreement on that.
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Old 11-04-2012, 07:25   #330
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Re: The Philosophy behind Sailing Simply and cheaply

By the way, I found the mythical woman sailor who believes in simplicity and actually uses a bucket for a head - by her own choice!

from her website:

"While many of my how-to pieces are published in national magazines, I reserved the most extreme simplification methods for my book: Simply Sailing: A Different Approach to a Life of Adventure. It’s difficult to sell a piece about getting fed up with your marine head and throwing it overboard in order to simplify to a bucket. Magazines won’t touch something like that, so to speak. Living without a fridge (or ice), novel storage ideas and major repairs (new non-skid for the decks) are OK, but try getting an editor excited about your kerosene lights or sculling oar. These are the kinds of tips I share on my website instead: www.simplysailingonline.com. By sailing simply we were able to follow our dream at 31 instead of 65. We are not independently wealthy; we both work a few months a year at “real jobs” and I write year-round. (A “real job” is one that pays the bills and writing almost but not quite does.) But because we have no generator, refrigerator, pressure water, shower, marine head or outboard and few electronic gizmos, sailing simply is much cheaper, allowing us to go now"

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