We need to combine different ways of doing things to navigate effectively in these uncertain times with for example climate change, environmental damage and the reactions of people to these changes – large scale movements of refugees: the planned ways of Western society based in scientific understanding together with its respective technologies and the deeper knowing of the lie of the land and sense of the context within which we are operating of the native.
On example of two different ways of doing things is described in the following quote:
“Thomas Gladwin, an anthropologist, contrasted the ways that a European and a native sailor from the island group of Truk navigated small boats between many tiny islands in the vast Pacific Ocean.
Before setting sail, the European begins with a plan that can be written in terms of directions, degrees of longitude and latitude, [and] estimated time of arrival at separate points on the journey. Once the plan is conceived and completed, the sailor has only to carry out each step consecutively, one after another, to be assured of arriving on time at the planned destination. The sailor uses all the available tools, such as a compass, a sextant, a map, etc., and if asked, can describe exactly how he got where he was going.
In contrast, the native Trukese sailor starts his voyage by imagining his destination relative to the position of other islands. As he sails along, he constantly adjusts his direction according to his awareness of his position thus far. His decisions are improvised continually by checking relative positions of landmarks, sun, wind direction, etc. He navigates with reference to where he started, where he is going, and the space between where he is going, and the space between his destination and the point where he is at the moment. If asked how he navigates so well without instruments or a written plan, he cannot possibly put it into words. This is not because the Trukese are not accustomed to describing things in words, but rather because the process is too complex and fluid to be put into words”.
J.A. Paredes and M.J. Hepburn, “The Split-Brain and the Culture-Cognition Paradox” in Current Anthropology 17, 1976 in B. Edwards, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, p.49 Sidebar.
This extract provides an example of two distinct ways of doing/being. Both ways are valuable and should be combined in practice. Our current way of being in the Western world leans heavily on the European model described here in this example, but what we are faced with is a range of predicaments that are not easily resolvable using these methods, we need other ways. This though is not to deny the value in these existing ways. we need to find ways to be both and rather than either or.
The art is to find ways to combine these different ways…