Why seek wisdom from primitive peoples
SOME of the primitive races have avoided certain of the life problems faced by modernized groups and the methods and knowledge used by the primitive peoples are available to assist modernized individuals in solving their problems. Many primitive races have made habitual use of certain preventive measures in meeting crucial life problems.
Search for controls among remnants of primitive racial stocks has been resorted to as a result of failure to find them in our modernized groups or to find the controlling factors by applying laboratory methods to the affected clinical material. Only the primitive groups have been able to provide adequate normal controls.
In the following chapters, I have presented descriptions of certain peoples and their environments in primitive state, and, for comparative study, descriptions of members of the primitive tribes who have been in contact with modernized white races. I have recorded the effects of that contact as expressed in physical and character changes, and have given a survey of the factors in the environment which have changed. It has been necessary to study in this way a wide variety of primitive groups and physical environments. It will, accordingly, be advisable for the reader to keep in mind the comparative effects of different altitudes, latitudes, temperatures and races, and to note the similarity of the reactions of these primitive groups when contact is made with our modern civilization. The purpose is to glean data that will be applicable for use in correcting certain tragic expressions of our modern degeneration, including tooth decay, general physical degeneration, and facial and dental-arch deformities, and character changes. These data will be useful in preventing race decay and deformities, in establishing a higher resistance to infective diseases, and in reducing the number of prenatal deficiency injuries. These latter include such expressions as mental deficiencies caused by brain defects in the formative period, which result in mental disturbances ranging from moderate backwardness to character abnormalities.
The data presented show the level of susceptibility to dental caries (tooth decay) in each isolated primitive group and, contrasted with that, the level of susceptibility in the modernized natives of the same stock. A résumé of the changes in the environment that are associated with the changes in immunity and susceptibility will be presented. These data reveal an average increase in susceptibility of thirty-five fold. Similar contrasts are shown in relation to the relative incidence of facial and dental arch deformities among primitive natives and modernized natives.
It will be easy for the reader to be prejudiced since many of the applications suggested are not orthodox. I suggest that conclusions be deferred until the new approach has been used to survey the physical and mental status of the reader's own family, of his brothers and sisters, of associated families, and finally, of the mass of people met in business and on the street. Almost everyone who studies the matter will be surprised that such clear-cut evidence of a decline in modern reproductive efficiency could be all about us and not have been previously noted and reviewed.
It is important to preface the observations by constructing a mental pattern of physical excellence from the pictures of the various primitive groups and, with this yardstick or standard of normalcy, observe our modern patterns. Certain preconceived ideas may have to be modified, as for example, that based on the belief that what we see is due to heredity or that deformity is due to mixing of races. If so, why should the last child in a large family generally suffer most, and often be different in facial form; or why should there be these changes in the later children, even in pure racial stocks, after the parents have adopted our modern types of nutrition? Although the causes of physical degeneration that can be seen easily have been hard to trace, the defects in the development of the brain, which affect the mind and character, are much more obscure, and the causes of mental degeneration are exceedingly difficult to trace. Much that formerly has been left to the psychiatrist to explain is now rapidly shifting to the realm of the anatomist and physiologist.
Those contributions of the past cultures which have blended agreeably into our modern experience have been accepted with too little questioning. Much ancient wisdom, however, has been rejected because of prejudice against the wisdom of so-called savages. Some readers may experience this reaction to the primitive wisdom recorded in these chapters.
The writer is fully aware that his message is not orthodox; but since our orthodox theories have not saved us we may have to readjust them to bring them into harmony with Nature's laws. Nature must be obeyed, not orthodoxy. Apparently many primitive races have understood her language better than have our modernized groups. Even the primitive races share our blights when they adopt our conception of nutrition. The supporting evidence for this statement is voluminous and as much of it as space permits is included in this volume. The illustrative material used is taken from the many thousands of my negatives which are available. Photographs alone can tell much of the story, and one illustration is said to be worth as much as one thousand words.
Since the problem of applying the wisdom of the primitives to our modern needs concerns not only health workers and nutritionists, but also educators and social workers, the data are presented without technical details.
While many of the primitive races studied have continued to thrive on the same soil through thousands of years, our American human stock has declined rapidly within a few centuries, and in some localities within a few decades. In the regions in which degeneration has taken place the animal stock has also declined. A decadent individual cannot regenerate himself, although he can reduce the progressive decadence in the next generation, or can vastly improve that generation, by using the demonstrated wisdom of the primitive races. No era in the long journey of mankind reveals in the skeletal remains such a terrible degeneration of teeth and bones as this brief modern period records. Must Nature reject our vaunted culture and call back the more obedient primitives? The alternative seems to be a complete readjustment in accordance with the controlling forces of Nature.
Thinking is as biologic as is digestion, and brain embryonic defects are as biologic as are club feet. Since both are readily produced by lowered parental reproductive capacity, and since Nature in her large-scale human demonstration reveals that this is chiefly the result of inadequate nutrition of the parents and too frequent or too prolonged child bearing, the way back is indicated. Like the successful primitive racial stocks, we, too, can make, as a first requisite, provision for adequate nutrition both for generation and growth, and can make provision for the regulation of the overloads. We, like the successful primitives, can establish programs of instruction for growing youth and acquaint it with Nature s requirements long before the emergencies and stresses arise. This may require a large-scale program of home and classroom instruction, particularly for the high school girls and boys. This would be in accordance with the practice of many of the primitive races reported upon in the following chapters.
If the individuals in our modern society who are sufficiently defective to require some supervision are in part or largely the product of an injured parentage, who should be held responsible? Is it just for society to consign these unsocial individuals which it has made to a life of hard labor or confinement in depressing environments? Is it just for society to permit production of physical and mental cripples? Many primitive races apparently have prevented the distortions which find expressions in unsocial acts. If so, cannot modern society do this by studying and adopting the programs developed through centuries of experience by the primitives? Nature uses a written language which, without the keys, is made up of meaningless hieroglyphics, but which, with the proper keys, becomes a clear story of racial and individual history. The hieroglyphics indicate racial and individual disaster for modernized groups who heed not the warning story. The primitive races have some of these keys and have used them successfully in avoiding many of the disasters of our modern society. The following chapters record many of the excellent practices of the primitives and they are presented here with the hope that they will be helpful in a program designed to relieve mankind of some of the misfortunes common in the present social order and to prevent disorders for future generations of civilized peoples.
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