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Wastes of clan warfare

kinds of work, or all parts of a task, he never can be as quick and expert as though he could specialize on one kind of work.

A second great lack in clan life was shown by the waste of time and energy in quarreling or war. Not such great wars as came later but more or less constant danger. This again was because man had not learned how to live in large groups. He had to spend much of his time watching the other fellow, that is, the other clans; and even so, he was liable to be raided, his house pulled down or burned, and his crops destroyed. If one of his clansmen had injured some one of another tribe he might suffer for it although he had been quite innocent. It was only after man had found a way to keep peace, and had begun to make friends with other groups that he could make great progress in securing a comfortable living.

Yet although the clan was too small a group for the best protection and prosperity, we must not forget that it cared well for its members up to the limit of its ability. No one in the clan or tribe was allowed to suffer as long as there was enough food or clothing in the tribe. Among civilized people a family may starve while the man next door wastes enough daily to feed the first family for a month. We aim through our government and through charitable societies to relieve those who are in want; but in every great city there is much suffering in winter. To ask for help is regarded as a sort of confession of failure, and some prefer going without food or fuel to the humiliation of asking aid. The savage doesn't feel that he is begging for a favor; he has a right to his share so long as the supply lasts. Unfortunately if there were drought or failure of game or of a crop, the early group could not usually count

Mutual aid

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

fellows 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


He was

day and night, the change of seasons, rain, snow, dis

This made him fearful of the unseen. 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


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

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