I’m always going on about how resourceful people can be but I am so high fiving the Tikopians. The original true opportunists.
In the Pacific island live a small number of people who have dwindled away since the 1950’s, when Christians were on their Jehovah like mission to convert all people to their religion. Sadly these people didn’t have a
‘We don’t open doors to Christian people’ .sign and doors are are lot sturdier these days.
These people would originally do two -week rituals a year which they called undertaking ‘ the work of the Gods’
These Gods don’t ask for much of our human time, do they?
The idea behind the rituals was that it was kind of like a currency exchange in the form of:
I indulge you and work for you and you provide us with what we need to survive.
A great system of trade – fair and legit enough, don’t you think?
Okay, Daisy, What is so awesome about these people that make you want to high five them?
This is genius! Okay here is how this religion was structured:
Let’s pretend I am a Tikopian. I check my watch /sundial and I’m thinking –oh boy, time to do some work for the Gods to please them.
So, I think to myself –I’m not shy of work. I see a canoe. That looks like it needs fixing and I fix it.
I look at my soil and think –Aaah yes, what a good time to plant those vegetable seeds I bought a while back….
I do a bit of gardening.
I’m sweating, I wipe my brow. I look up to the heavens. Crying out
“Look at all this work I am doing for you”. I get a few treats and a potent drink of kava and offer it to the Gods.
I know that they are not as consistent as say , Santa Clause. Unlike Santa Clause these Gods don’t take a sip of their drink or nibble at the food left out for them. I could interpret this as being highly ungrateful, or
I go to the place where I placed my offerings and I say
” Gods! I see very clearly now. You must eat only ‘in essence’. I know what I shall do,I will eat and drink your offerings in the presence of your grace”
I’m feeling a bit tipsy but I have worked hard and the Gods are happy.
Some time passes, I’m seen out having a leisurely canoe ride, my plants are harvesting and my people can’t understand how I can prosper so much when I consume the god’s offerings and work for my own gain under the guise of working for the Gods.
My people shout my name and want answers. They have been self-flagellating or praying or chanting or whatever during their two week ritual of working for the gods.
I steer my canoe back to the shores and jump out of it and walk towards my people. They form a circle around me. I say:
” I was asked to take part in some work on this work for the Gods ritual, was I not? I fixed my canoe and tended to my harvest. Is this not work?”
No one can really argue with me.
My people ( the ones who catch on quickly) start to look at me differently. The look is one that makes me feel like I have elevated my status. I’ve been rewarded by the Gods not punished. I am now seen as someone with great privilege.
So why am I high fiving these people?
Well, they used these rituals with the Gods to create a social and economic structure within their community. They saw an opportunity to help their community to thrive and stick together in the name of their Gods.
These rituals and how they approached them held the Tikopian society together.
Now you have got to applaud such cunning and resourcefulness from so-called primitive people.