Learning about Life

Posted on 20 October 2010  | 
Next to learning about this magnificent country and its breath taking wildlife I learned about LIFE itself. Before graduating I wrote my thesis about human behavior as it’s one of my biggest interests. And so I am always comparing ways of living in different cultures. It always strikes me when I see and observe more primitive cultures how “pure” and “untouched” these people are. But the people of Madagascar were the purest way of living I’ve ever seen. It was striking, breathtaking, and a wake-up call to see how these people still lived. Living in their wooden huts, with no electricity, no hot water and obviously no luxury at all they showed us how people must have been living here in “the West” a long time ago. I would like to refer to the film I’ve seen a couple years ago called “The Invasion of the Barbarian” a film about a man that is at the end of his life realizing what life really is about and how most people in the west have lost their connection with nature and life as something we need to respect and ‘feel’. The “barbarians” in this movie are everyday things that make us forget who we are: the disgusting and suffocating disease called money, the killing stress because of work work work, competition, deadlines, falling rates, shares, business, money , stock exchange… But who are you, yes you in this world? Hopefully more then just a little part of that filthy machine called economy. People in the West have forgotten who they are. But they are kept happy, although in a very artificial way: we are kept happy with a bit of metal or plastic: a new phone, a car, a new laptop. And when it's broken you’re sad, but no worries, just buy another one, you’re happiness is just around the corner in a cardboard box! One of the most striking scenes in that movie is that the son of the dying person comes into the hospital to visit his dying dad, he’s a “real” busines man: clean shaven, nice suit, laptop. Not a half a minute after he comes in, the laptop is open on the bed of his dad (even worse: it’s on the legs of his dad), and he’s on the phone buying and selling shares. Another great example in this way is the film: “Into The Wild.” Where people (or at least 1) say goodbye to our money and economy fuelled way of “living” or “being” is maybe a better word (but is far of real pure life).

And of course, we need to be extremely careful if we’re talking about “development.” Is it our job to go and change pretty much every single aspect of their life to make it in to ours because WE think that’s right??? In other words: is it our right to go there and break every cultural thing down they have because we think our western way is so much better? Shouldn’t we over think every “development”-project about a million times before actually going there? Or yeah, maybe we should just go and talk about making money and investment, talking about economic growth and other poison so when we go back in 10 years and see today’s children work for us in Mc Donalds or a fancy resort to serve us, and our Western Way, I’l very sure they’ll be much much much happier then…!?!?!? Well, from the ground of my heart I hope they leave those last ‘pure’ people live the real life, not infested by dirty dollars, but that people here may start realizing that we only have one world and we should treat it with the most care possible! People should finally start realizing that we should and can chose between LIFE or ECONOMY! Or in other words: finding true life back, that’s what I have learned in Madagascar!
Ubinam gentium summus? (Latin: what kind of people did we become?)
© WWF / Roel Cattoor Enlarge
One of the untouched villages in the Ivohibe district
© WWF / Roel Cattoor Enlarge

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