Слике страница
PDF
ePub

fellows

on the help of other tribes. Civilized men can bring grain from all over the world in case a crop fails in one country.

(1) In the small group, like the clan or tribe, the Success in members tended to unite firmly and to have a strong uniting group spirit. They were in some ways more loyal to with his their group than people today are to their city or country. They might be said to have more “public spirit” than persons in civilized society. The reasons for this come out if we ask what makes school spirit, or team spirit, or club spirit, in fact, group spirit of any kind. We usually find that when we (1) work or play in company, (2) coöperate in behalf of some common object, (3) celebrate in common victories and mourn in common experiences of trouble, we have group spirit. The tribes and clans do all these things. They fight for the clan; they hunt and fish together; they dance and sing together over their success in war or the chase; they mourn together in funeral ceremonies when one of their members dies. And besides all this they do not have so many private interests and so much private property. A civilized man can get on better in his private business if he does not give much time to the public. Sometimes he can make money by driving a sharp bargain with his city or his state. He may be in business partnership with men living in another city. So he is quite likely to find himself drawn in two different directions. The savage is much more bound up with the success and welfare of the clan.

(2) There were no such class divisions in the early No group as we find later between kings and subjects, or class between nobles and common folk; or as today, between

divisions rich and poor, employers and employed. The tribe might make slaves from other tribes, but slavery was

Group unity

not common until man got farther along. The chief division was usually that between older and younger, but this was, of course, constantly shifting, and so did not make fixed classes. Fixed classes, which developed later, by their contrasts make much unhappiness and envy that are escaped by the savage. We do not mind doing without things so much if all share alike.

(3) The group customs and taboos held the members together. The customs seemed more sacred to them than many of our laws seem to us. In some tribes today there is much less crime, less murder, less stealing, less violence than in our great cities. The Hopi Indians live quietly in their villages and manage their members with far less annoyance to their neighbors than do cities of white folk.

Over against these great achievements we must set some of the defects.

The great defect of custom was that while it held people together and restrained unruly members it tended to hold every one back. If we do things just as others do, and if we do things just as they have always been done, we certainly shall not get ahead. The savage today who is bound by customs does not make progress. It is likely that our ancestors for a long time suffered from rigid habits of thinking and acting. The phrase “ the cake of custom” has been used to denote this condition. It was as though customs hardened into a stiff cake which helped to hold people firmly together and kept them from going to pieces, but also kept them from going ahead.

A second defect was that people in such a clan were too much alike. Just as we need to exchange work with one another in order to prosper, so we need to exchange

Bound by custom

Too much alike

ideas with one another in order to grow wiser. It stirs us to think when we meet a man from another country, or another line of business, or another political party. When people all did the same thing, and could not mix with strangers, they did not have so much to rouse their minds.

A third defect was that when all in the clan did the Little same thing there was little chance for any one to develop opporany special gift or talent; he was obliged to hunt, or tunity make axes or bows or arrows, whether he had any talent for it or not. If a Newton had been born in such a tribe he would not have had a chance to study the movements and laws of the earth and moon. Beethoven could not have had a good opportunity to study music. John Marshall could not have studied law nor Henry Ford made automobiles. There was not much to appeal to a boy's ambition except success in hunting or in fighting. There was still less to appeal to a girl's ambition. There were not many windows through which to look out toward the future.

Because custom was strong and because all did the Little same things there was not much choice and hence not freedom much liberty. We often speak of savage life as free, because there is no king and no policeman. But this is only one kind of freedom. The most important kind of freedom is to be able to choose among many good opportunities. If I am governed by custom, or habit, or instinct, I have little choice. And if there is only one kind of occupation, one place where I can live, one group that I can belong to, then I have little choice and little freedom.

One other respect in which the early savage was not free was in his lack of knowledge. He was ignorant about the true causes of things that were going on

ease.

day and night, the change of seasons, rain, snow, disThis made him fearful of the unseen.

He was superstitious. When a man was sick he was supposed to be attacked by evil spirits; when things went wrong it was due to bad luck or bad medicine

of some kind. This made him timid about trying new ways of doing things, and set him on the wrong track when he tried to cure disease. He was likely to pound on a drum to drive away the bad spirit instead of discovering the true cause.

Character in clan life

Kindness

What qualities of character had the man of the clan developed ? Evidently there would not be much chance to practise honesty, for there was little trading and no one had much property. But there were other good qualities which we prize today.

First was kindness. This word means treating man as though he belonged to your kind, or your kin. The clansman shared with his kin. He protected his kin. He helped his kind. He stood by them. In our presentday life, when we compete with men in business, or live in such great cities that we often do not know our own neighbors, we sometimes forget to be kind. The man of the clan could not forget this. The defect was that he was not kind to people of other groups. Indeed it would have seemed to him quite absurd that he should be. What was needed was that men should learn to show kindness not only to their own kin-Greeks, Jews, Celts, white men-but to all.

Close to kindness came loyalty—loyalty to the group. The man of the clan felt that the clan was more important than he was. He must follow its traditions ; he must fight for it. Now it is a great thing for any of us to belong to something greater than ourselves. It

Loyalty to the group

makes us larger men and women. For if we are thinking of the group as our group, if we make its causes our own, then we somehow for the moment widen out our thought and our sympathy. The early man's group was not a large one, and sometimes the main service it asked of its members was to make a raid upon some other tribe. But it was a school in which man learned to stand by his group.

Third might be mentioned courage. For the clan Courage praised the brave man and ridiculed the coward.

Fourth was respect for the elders. This was very Respect strong in the clan, and many of the customs, such as initiations, were well adapted to cultivate this trait.

These traits belong to what we sometimes call group morals. They represent a great deal that is necessary in the good citizen, but they leave much to be done. For there were three lacks in the life of the man of the clan: First, he lacked knowledge about nature, and Lack of especially knowledge how to use the great forces of knowledge fire, steam, electricity. Science and invention must come to supply this lack.

Second, he lived in too small a group, and did not co- The clan operate enough with his fellows. “Union is strength,” too small is an old proverb. It was proved at first in war; it is a group only recently that men have come to realize what it means in peace. Now the clan or tribe is an association which is strong as far as it goes, but in one respect it does not go far enough; in other respects it goes too far, that is, it is too intense. Both faults seem to be due to belonging to too small a group and to too few groups.

His group was too small. The people in one clan are Hence suspicious of those in another. They do not trade clannishfreely with them. They do not have a common judge ness

« ПретходнаНастави »