Thursday, January 18, 2007

Left in thought

  • Choose a representative passage from this novel that holds particular significence to you. Type it in and comment on its significance.

Chapter 2, Page 34

“Why would anyone want to eat human flesh?”

“Eventually all would overcome their feeling of kerkeriyap and partake, if not on this occasion, then on some other. But no sawi could ever forget the dread of that first eating of human flesh. It marked one of the major thresholds each of them must cross in order to know the ultimate essence of Sawi existence. In the day each individual ate of that flesh, it seemed to him that his eyes were opened to know both good and evil.”

Why is this passage so intriguing? It is the fact that this one statement verifies the fact that the Sawi are indeed human beings. The Sawi without doubt does not have a overwhelming craziness for human flesh, and are no different from us. Despite the fact that the Sawi and we have different environments and beliefs, their innate human traits are similar to those of ours. It was with great pleasure to see that the Sawi did not enjoy human flesh from the beginning. The fact that they have fear during their first encounter with human flesh suggests that God has not created an alienated race of people. The fear of consuming the same genus was after all, innate in the Sawi as well. With constant repeated actions of consuming human flesh, the Sawi are able to restrain their instincts of rejection. It is said that a human being may be able to adapt to any aspect when constantly acted upon, even murder. This is the case for the Sawi. Although they do not have the intrinsic love for human flesh, the Sawi are able to eat human flesh because they eventually become accustomed to it. As a result, the Sawi are human beings not special but similar to everyone around the world (in a instinctive manner that is).

Concrete or Jungle?

  • How different is your modern culture from the sawi tenents?

Technological advancement is just a pretense to hide the fact that there is not much difference between a cannibalistic-based culture and that of the modern culture. How different are we from them? The Sawi and we are not that different. It is hard to admit and realize that sure, we have life spans that exceed 70 years, machines that practically do everything for us, and medical advancements, apart from our external aspects, our internal features and actions are indeed dreadfully similar. The Sawi have traditions that base treachery and betrayal which are praised when acted upon enemies. This tradition of ‘fattening with friendship’ is not limited to just the Sawi tribes. In the modern world, we often see people act based on taking advantage of each other and performing betrayal. In fact, maybe the modern culture and its dwellers have a sense of more evil within themselves rather than the Sawi. Despite the fact that our world has established laws and international agreements, and persist that we are civilized, we still do not prevent a primitive factor of crime. The Sawi, however, even without the aid of ‘for sure’ laws; they may prevent the very act of violation with a single word. The book stated that in truth, the Sawi did not ‘enjoy’ war with other tribes. Notorious reputation was raised just to keep protection of there own kind. The modern culture, however, creates war without an intention. It is justly hard to admit that without our flamboyant outward appearance, our camouflage of laws and technology, we are committing a more serious crime compared to the Sawi. Sometimes, it is us that function with greater motives that are evil and with greater amounts of betrayal. The Sawi may perform these traditions in necessity while we perform sin without really a motivation

Reflecting, Connecting..

  • What reflections and connections can you make with this novel?

Cultural change is truly a difficult obstacle to pass through. Changing the rudimentary beliefs of your own life is not as easy as said to be. This interferes with the philosophy that you have believed and also your own faith. And to extend this extreme difficulty, change beliefs in religion may fairly well be considered as impossible considering the fact that the Sawi had been familiarized to different gods for centuries long. Don Richardson, however, had performed a great deal in appealing God’s words to the Sawi and introducing Christianity. It is with a greater praise to the Sawi to have the courage to embrace God and his words.To me, a similar change had happened in my life. Before I lived the first year of my life, my family had moved to the US. From there on, I lived in the states for about ten years. During of which was probably the easiest of my life. Before I had the chance to enter junior high, my family suddenly moved back to Korea. I had been sent then to a Korean school. At that current moment, I did not have the ability to read or write Korean and therefore I experienced culture shock. To me, the system of school was different from what I had been accustomed to. Students were sometimes spanked for wrong doings and memorization in studying was emphasized rather than understanding the content. Because of the huge difference between what I lived by and what I had to live by, I had the tendency to reject my environment and not follow the rules. Unlike the Sawi and Don Richardson, I never had the chance to conquer the changes of my environment

Shocking Sawi

  • What concepts in the Sawi culture intregued / reviled / saddened / angered / surprised you?

It was fascinating to view a whole new culture not based on modern development. As I had modest or else no information or knowledge on a tribe based on cannibalism, it was truly a mesmerizing experience to view a different world. Most of all, I believed that headhunting was mainly for food rather than a symbol of strength and opportunity of climbing the ladder of hierarchy. In opposition of my belief, these people enjoyed the betrayal and the fear created to the victim rather than the actual slaughter. They praised betrayal as a sacred tradition form the fore fathers and thought this to be a great factor of their society. Another fact that surprised me was that in fact, the Sawi were normal human beings too. In the story, there is a part where the Sawi are portrayed amidst their first introduction to human flesh. It is said that the children of Sawi never forget the fear of eating human flesh for the first time. This in turn suggests that the Sawi are no different from us. They too have the nature and instinct that it is not right to eat the same genus. Rather, they ignore instinct and practice it in so many trials that the body is able to suppress instinct and later on behave with no feeling. This was shocking because I believed that those who practiced cannibalism actually had a liking for the ‘flesh’ they were eating. Apparently, I was proved wrong. They headhunted not for food for the glory in which is placed by the society and tradition of their culture.

Help is on the way

  • What do mission organisations do for these people?

Mission organizations and their missionaries mainly have the objective to spread the gospel to those who have not had the chance to be aware of the existence of God. Like Don Richardson, these missionaries are by and large sent to cultures that have not urbanized in an immense deal. These people not only help to establish God and his words but also aid the people with other aspects of life. Education is usually provided with the introduction of God and Christianity. However, it is not only the emphasis of God and the Christian beliefs, but also the connection and understanding of the people that the missionaries are sent to. Don Richardson had not tried to force the Sawi into Christianity. Instead, he viewed their culture and beliefs; rudimentary structures of their social order in order to further connect and be able to view perspectives of their ways. Then Don had a new attempt of preaching the word by acquiring knowledge of what is praised in the Sawi culture. Eventually, Don had found ways to appeal to the Sawi, different from modern cultures, and to find methods where the bible could be conveyed effectively. With the preaching of Gods words, the standards of living are also supported. Medical care, supplies of food, and equipment are on average introduced. With the main objective of spreading the gospel and Christianity, these organizations also help to secure the life and preservation of primitive cultures.

Civilized vs. Uncivilized

  • What should society do for “uncivilized cultures” like the Sawi?

    In a culture as uncivilized as the Sawi, we tend to make assumptions that these people are ‘ignorant’. That is just our perspective. In fact, these tribe members are able to function within their own society to form a hierarchic system and laws of their own. They are able to hunt and even have a system of communication. This suggests that they are no different from us, however, just primitive. Education may be the first suggestion to these people but this is of no use if the cannibalistic tribes destroy each other. Protection and the survival of the people would be required in order to preserve and secure. Then can further adjustments to the people be placed upon the Sawi. In the novel, ‘Peace Child’ Don Richardson had wondered how the Sawi could preserve and live on for centuries even in the midst of constant war. He later came to the fact that because the tribes are place so far apart, and with the nature of hiding and camouflage, they were able to live until today. Our interference to the culture may be somewhat viewed as a threat to the survival of the Sawi. Our modern cultures emphasize on worldwide communication and connection. We live in a world where even countries on the other side of the globe communicate and interact with each other. Before we further jeopardize the survival of the sawi, we should first provide a glimpse of the modern world. Before we change the lives of the Sawi we should first notice that these people have been living in a primitive environment for centuries. First, we should secure the survival, then start changing the Sawi to a point where some traditions can be preserved in baby-steps.

    When Cultures meet

    • What should we do when we are confroted with other cultures?

    It is difficult to say that we are always able to view others in an objective view. In fact, it is possible to say that we always have fixed perspectives and biased views of other cultures based on our own knowledge. Today with Internet connection and a period of ‘worldwide community’, culture is easily viewed when people from other countries meet on the Internet. Recently, there was a news article about Japanese culture and comments from different people. The article discussed about ‘Japanese pornography’ and its massive economic market that is formed from the selling and buying of these Adult Videos (AV). It seems that in Japan, the people believe that creating and selling AV’s is just a form of living and marketing. It said that they didn’t see a big difference between celebrities and AV actors. In one case in Japan, an AV actress had become a singer and also acting in a ‘normal’ soap opera. In Korea, this would be impossible to happen because of the different views of cultural beliefs. Personally, I couldn’t agree with the Japanese perspective of ‘pornography’. This is a result of the different environment of Korea and Japan. Of the comments left by people on the Internet, many of the Koreans said that ‘it wasn’t morally right to expand massive markets with pornography. As from the example, it is virtually difficult to view other cultures without prejudice. Our minds and knowledge are the first to interfere with what and how we judge other circumstances. Many others, however, always state a clich├ęd saying of ‘confronting and viewing other cultures with a perfectly objective view’ while they themselves, have many prejudice against certain cultures and countries. Take for instance, Koreans. The majority of those who have received education within the territory of Korea, all have hostility towards the Japanese. Or maybe the thought that when we think of the continent, Africa, we see black, naked, uncivilized, bare-footed, people who live in huts when actually; there are many developed cities and countries within the continent. So as a conclusion, to avoid prejudice and biased opinions of completely different cultures, we should not try to judge with our knowledge but just to accept and not analyze within our own perspectives.