Jim's Reviews > The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?

The World Until Yesterday by Jared Diamond
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's review
Jan 11, 2013

really liked it
Read on January 11, 2013

Jared Diamond writes of adventures experienced by him and a variety of peers in observing how traditional (non-Western) societies address many of life's mundane concerns. Can we learn from the tribe on Papua New Guinea about child care? Even within its culture, parents take different approaches to how to raise children. But traditional societies usually have an expected way of doing things within their tribes. Diamond describes and compares westernized cultures against cultures that have not had the many benefits we enjoy, and life is very rugged and unpredictable for the latter. A nomadic tribe will leave a handicapped elderly person to die without anyone around. Some cultures encourage the elderly to take their own lives rather than be a burden to the tribe. It seems like a pretty cold-hearted way of addressing the issue of death, but for nomadic tribes, they can't be burdened by carrying the feeble, especially when they are fleeing an enemy. Resolving conflicts in traditional societies requires the involvement of the whole tribe, rather than turning the issue of a crime over to the state or law enforcement.
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