Disgust at Civilization

[I wrote this over at rewild.info, a forum I help moderate, that deals with rewilding.]

The more I learn about the successful “survivance” of tribal cultures, in the midst of civilization, the more I think that the basic human toolkit of confident disgust really works. In fact, I have a theory…

You have three kinds of people who need protection from the destructive influence of civilized culture.

1) Adults immersed in civilization.
2) Adults newly immersed in a culture dwelling beyond civilization.
3) Children

For #1, these people need explanations and articulations to reveal the dark side of civilization (at least, in so far as they ask for help and support to make sense of why this culture doesn’t satisfy their needs). They need it brought to light, so they can make a conscious choice about it.

For #2 and #3, articulating things makes acculturation more difficult. We just need to act in disgust and revulsion towards things that do not affirm life. Body language, and simple statements, lead the way.

As, in “yuck! gross! weird!”. With that Mr. Yuk face.

Nobody needs to explain to a child who sees Mr. Yuk what will happen if they taste the contents of a bottle with his face on it.

We all know, at this point, that civilization had to work overtime to fool anybody that it made even the least bit of sense. In fact, civilization created a “yuck!” response for abandonment.

Tribal cultures, the world over, have used gossip, and social pressure (otherwise known as “guilt” and “shaming”) to keep their cultures intact and humming along.

Guilt and Shame impact us rewilders so powerfully, that we have to tread incredibly lightly in rewilding these concepts. They have caused enormous amounts of pain in myself, and my friends, and even now haunt me a little. Such power they have! In using them, we can easily regress into civilized modes of virtue and purity, exactly what we want to escape.

But, as a community, I think we’ve reached a point where we can begin to talk about them, and begin to consider what it means to feel “shame” that one has made a life-denying choice.

At this point, civilization has done so much damage to human and other people, that the burden lies with it to explain itself. I reject it utterly in every aspect as a gruesome joke, an anti-life and anti-human endeavor. I need no more explanation, no more books like “Culture of Make Believe”. A cruel and laughable enterprise, Civilization makes a mockery of those who engage in it, and deserves no more substantive rebuttal than Mr. Yuk:

In balance to that, then you can celebrate the life-affirming side. Talking to plants and animals with your children, treasuring family connections and making them stronger, etc. etc.

I believe that we over-explain things to our children, and to each other. Children, and other adults, look to our faces, our body language, the tone of our voice, for direction on what affirms life, and what doesn’t. If we act from a strong center with disgust or joy, we embody the world we want.

Written by Willem