Writers Notebook - 28 Dec 2015
Relationships with Technology
- The historian Ronald Wright has noted, "From ancient times until today, civilized people have believed that they behave better, and are better, than so-called savages." But this is just not so. It is a belief that is unjustified specifically because we have the same stone age brain as those savages. Their cultures are different from our own, but we cannot be said in any meaningful way to be "better", either individually or as a group. Hunter-gatherers can be just as friendly, brutal, caring, dismissive, helpful and murderous as modern, civilized people. The difference between the two would seem to be simply a matter of technology. Use of technology certainly changes brain structures, but does not change the fundamentals of emotion, including compassion and fear.
- The word in the Pashto language for an AK-47, the world's most ubiquitous military assault rifle is, disturbingly, "machine". The AK-47 may be the only machine rural Pashtun children ever see. Trucks are rare in their mountain villages, time is told by the sun, and plumbing is unheard of.
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