No, not all cultures are equal

Anyway, here I am now in a remote Northern Territory town where there is a large Aboriginal population in an adjoining settlement, and the conversation frequently comes back to mind. In my current employ I have daily contact with many of these folk and, barring a few delightful exceptions, they are disproportionally illiterate in English, innumerate, obese (or, oddly, underfed), unwashed, and very often drunk – or a combination of all these fine attributes. There are so many problems, and so little that seems can be done.

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The narrative of the Aboriginals’ 45,000-year history is given some majesty in popular opinion pieces. Why, I don’t know, unless stagnation is your thing.

Wandering about for 45,000 years while advancing as a culture not one iota: no writing, no buildings, no structures, no technological advancements of any note. In short: Nothing, aside from some rock painting, superstition, and subsistence. This is nothing about which today’s Aboriginals need to feel either pride or humility, since today’s individuals have no responsibility for what others did in the past, only what they themselves do today and in the future.  But this 45,000-year story of stagnation does not seem to me what constitutes the natural state of man, or any sort of grounds for future success should one attempt  to find lessons in it for today.

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