Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Wisdom of the Inuit

This is a quote from an Inuit from Greenland made famous in the Danish writer Peter Freuchen's Book of the Es­kimo. Freuchen tells how one day, after coming home hungry from an unsuccessful walrus-hunting expedition, he found one of the successful hunters dropping off several hundred pounds of meat [for him]. He thanked him profusely. The man objected indignantly: 
'Up in our country we are human!' said the hunter. 'And since we are human we help each other. We don't like to hear anybody say thanks for that. What I get today you may get tomorrow. Up here we say that by gifts one makes slaves and by whips one makes dogs.' 
The "humanity" the man was claiming was the idea that there was no calculation of his "gift," no "accounting." It is the accounting of debt that ruins the gift, that makes man a slave. This has become an important concept in the world of anthropology.

No comments: