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By Kian Sahani, VI Form
Humans as One: How The Wayfinders Illustrates Human Integrality
Language and culture are like animals and plants: the forcefulness of Western culture endangers many of them. In The Wayfinders, Wade Davis explores the concepts of language, culture, race, and the ways they fare in a world primarily dominated by Western ideology. Within his first two lectures, Season of the Brown Hyena and The Wayfinders, Davis argues that although differences between people are fascinating, it is the similarities that are worth celebrating; below the surface, each person is virtually the same.
Season of the Brown Hyena begins with the statement that “on average, every fortnight an Elder dies and carries with him or her into the grave the last syllables of an ancient tongue” (Davis 2009, 3). Davis then continues with the argument that with every language there is an associated culture; therefore, for every language lost, there is a culture lost as well. Each language has the idiosyncrasies that make it unique, allowing a whole new culture to bloom from it. For example, the different ways in which people may describe a color can reflect something about their culture, such as how much of a role color plays into tradition or how specific one must be with different shades. Each ethnic group’s Sprachgefül, as Germans would call it, affect how the group views language. Lera Boroditsky’s TED Talk regarding “How Language Shapes the Way We Think” explains how differences in language are reflected in physical differences in the brain. These differences will affect thoughts, which, in turn, change beliefs and morals, generating a unique culture. Each of the latter is worth celebrating as Davis states, “every culture is by definition a vital branch of our family tree, a repository of knowledge and experience, and, if given the opportunity, a source of inspiration and promise for the future” (Davis 2009, 5). At the same time, every human on this Earth is almost identical to one another, according to biology.(more…)