This Sustainable Life

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645: Hamilton Souther, part 1: Living Among the Matsés in the Peruvian Amazon

Ep. 645

Suggest to people in our culture that we consider not growing the GDP nonstop and most react with fear at what they see as the inevitability of recession leading to depression leading to the tax base declining, infrastructure crumbling, hospitals closing, mothers dying in childbirth, thirty become old age, and reverting to the Stone Age.

Yet there remain many cultures that don't buy into our culture at all. Despite our culture invading their lands, what many of us consider the pinnacle of human culture, they choose theirs, and not out of ignorance. They know our culture.

If our culture is so great, with electric vehicles, fruit flown overnight around the world, and iPhones, why do they resist it?

If we believe we have so much, why do we keep taking their land?

Hamilton lived among the Matsés in the Peruvian Amazon for 4.5 years. He shares how he arrived there, how they took him in and trained him to be a shaman, and what differences and similarities he saw there compared to here. We talked a bit about ayahuasca, but as I see one of our greatest challenges is to learn to live sustainably, and electric vehicles move don't help, I was more interested in what I and we can learn from people who still leave things better than they found them.

Hamilton shares about how they live and the interface with a westerner who lived with them not as a tourist. I found his experience and education fascinating and accessible. Expect more episodes with Hamilton to come.

More Episodes

1/19/2023

661: Daniel, host of What is Politics?, part 1: Dominance, subjugation, hierarchy, and solutions

Ep. 661
I can't tell you how valuable (and entertaining) I found Daniel's video series.Regular listeners and readers may know how important I find anthropology to solving our environmental problems. If we want to change our culture, we have to know why it is this way, how other structures have worked, and how we can change.I started realizing this importance when I noticed that I had read podcast guest Sebastian Junger's book Tribe the day I unplugged my apartment. It showed me what we lack in our culture that others have: freedom, equality, community, connection, and what we value when calm, not bombarded with ads and feeling guilt, shame, helplessness, and hopelessness. It gave me something to look forward to beyond being able to fly to see the Eiffel Tower whenever I wanted.Next, reading The Dawn of Everything, another book on anthropology, showed a variety of cultures I hadn't known. We don't have to feel constricted to "returning to the Stone Age." But that book left open its main question: why are we stuck in our current culture?Enter What Is Politics?. In the series, Daniel clarifies what a lot of loose terms mean, thereby simplifying how to understand politics. It led me to understand why we're stuck and what we have to do to free ourselves.Daniel and I went to town talking politics, anthropology, hierarchies, how and why they form, sustainability, and more.Normally when my conversations go longer than an hour, I break them into parts, but if you like our conversation, you'll keep listening. I expect what we cover here and his series covers to ground a lot of what we have to do to change global culture. I'll close by reminding you of my mission statement on my bio page:My mission is to help change American (and global) culture on sustainability and stewardship from expecting deprivation, sacrifice, burden, and chore to expecting rewarding emotions and lifestyles, as I see happen with everyone I lead to act for their intrinsic motivations.In my case the emotions have been joy, fun, freedom, connection, meaning, and purpose.Everyone’s experience will be unique to his or her experience, but I know we all love nature so I don’t have to change anyone. I reveal what’s already there.