The Feast of Gloom

Lost in transition, maybe – but we are not a hopeless case


MOST of us in the current generation are lost in transition - moving from the village to the city we were not prepared for the life we are now living.

Our fathers and our grandfathers did not prepare us for how to function in this new lifestyle. How could they have known the challenges?

Most of us have learned how to live the approved life and to navigate the quagmire of a western society: through education, by observing others, through reading, and being exposed to new ideas in travel, movies and meeting new people.

We cannot begin to grasp the nuances of living in a western-style society governed by laws of western origin until we have immersed ourselves fully in such a lifestyle.

It is no wonder, when faced with a challenge, we revert to the default - the habits we adopted when growing up.

To move on, we have to stop blaming our past and try to break the cycle of ignorance and reluctance to change.

Education is one way to bring people up to speed. Then, after education, employment and a minimum wage need to be enough to enable independent living.

It is not a hopeless case so don't be too hard on ourselves. Things will get better.


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Chris Overland

PNG is attempting to make the leap from being a Neolithic hunter- gatherer society to the modern era over a very short period of time.

The same leap took place in Europe over a period of at least 3000 years, arguably somewhat longer.

As Tanya says, it is pretty big ask for PNG but not impossible: it has already been done most successfully in countries like Japan and China where traditional social and political structures were much more favourable to a fast transition.

African countries have really had to struggle, with South Africa seeming to be doing best at the moment. Others are really struggling.

I remain convinced that PNG can succeed in making this difficult transition provided its elites can figure out a way of reconciling the traditional demands of a system based on obligatory mutual reciprocity (the wantok system) with one based upon individual reward for effort (rapacious capitalism).

Australia, like every so called developed country, is still working through essentially the same process.

Barbara Short

Well said, Tanya. PNG is not a "hopeless case", in fact you are doing a brilliant job changing from "the stone age" to the "computer age" in such a short time span.

I'm continually amazed at how quickly PNGns adapt to the new concepts and new ways of living. It is all a rapid learning process for you all. God bless you.

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