Mental toughness. Why we all need to cultivate it.

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Mental toughness is vital for survival.

Change is inevitable….the trend has been that the more tenacious culture always bulldoze  less strong cultures. Look at the Spainish and the mighty cultures of the South America.

But this is not the rule – look at India for instance.. they have Bollywood and their own version of the silicone valley and others but their culture is still very much alive and vibrant as it did in the past – a culture that draws people worldwide.

What is the difference? I would say national pride, pride in culture, and belief that what they know is as good as what is imported….. now this is a mindset.

Nobody has the right to control what you think, until you allow them too. It is a mental toughness that says – I decide my own destiny.

It is high time those in the know start teaching our people that everything in life in relative. Life is not operated from a standard operating procedure.

Life is not all square pegs and there are 101 ways to skin a cat, it does not matter how you do it… at the end you get your cat meat.

You can try to tell me I am uncivilized, but what is civilization anyway? My ancestors were the worlds first farmers, they understood the concept of irrigation and used it to their advantage.

My ancestors were leaving the shores of their home with only the stars as their guide way before Columbus set out with his compass. This, definitely is not an inferior culture.

Instead of having a “o woe me” mindset, we should try to have faith in ourselves. Develop mental toughness that favors ourselves.

Everyone in this world is out to satisfy a need or a greed. Why not us? Why should we be subservient to others and serve their needs while neglecting ours?

To change needs a certain degree of mental toughness.

We have the power to dictate the rules of development on our land. If developers do not want to play, fine, we will do it ourselves because, knowledge and information is freely available (unlike in the days of our fathers.)

PNG can be a Research Laboratory.

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MIlne BAy Province students POM Grammer  celebrating culture. Photo TZAlone

If I was PM, I would put an end to the sales of our natural resources and open PNG up as a laboratory for research.

PNG is research paradise. We are one of the last forest frontier, we are a recent geological phenomena. We also carry the genes of an archaic hominid.

If you are a Melanesia, you are a Melanesia – not negroid despite your skin color. Even before the modern man walked out of Africa – we were already outside.

The reason why the oldest genetic material has survived over time is because the gene was selected over and over again through time because it gave our ancestors an advantage to survive in this land. We are the link to humanities past and the cutting edge of an archaic genes into the unknown future.

Now with the recent C19 – Melanesians passed through unscathe. The numbers of C19 deaths is zero east of the Wallace line. (The West Papua statistics is not clear and could be the trans migrants and not native melanesians). Many theories cannot explain why… Maybe, just maybe.. it is the archaic genes that gave us the protection.

The world needs answers, we could be the answer. Indeed, we are one of the last unexamined box for possible answers to human response to new diseases. But what we need to do is take advantage of this knowledge. While we remain clueless, scientists are coming in and walking out with valuable data for the price of dirt. Everyone Papua New Guinean born prior to the 80s should know the Hagahai story aka Blood Money where the blood belonging to forest peoples people in PNG was patented in the US without their knowledge. That story must not be repeated.

Our genes may contain answers – we can become the world laboratory. If I was the Prime Minister I will not allow vaccination, until we know what is in our blood. I will also build state-of-the-Art research facilities to conduct this research. If Cuba can concentrate on making doctors, we can concentrate on providing the answers linking the past to the present.

Know your place in history

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“I know my place in history”

Children, when born assimilate their parent’s point-of view as their point zero and build their worldview from thereon.  But life is not as temporary as between two generations. The life code swirling in our blood has a memory as old as humanity. This, I found out when I started working on my family tree.

I started my family tree with my maternal great grandmother. If she were alive, she would be 105 years old in the new year.   The year on her graveyard marker says that she was born in 1915. I imagine a tiny babe swaddled in tree bark cape and lying on a bed of moss.

Aspects of her life from 1915 remain a mystery to me.  I cannot begin to picture her growing up, the games she played with her siblings, her duties and responsibilities, the food she ate and how she interacted with the male members of her family. The year 1915 seems a long, long time ago.

The West had transitioned from the industrial revolution and was at the end of the modern era when my great grandmother was born.  While she played with her toes and looked into the sky from the comfort of her sleeping bag woven from the fibre of  tree barks – “bilum”. I wonder if my great grandmother saw aeroplanes because the airplane was already invented before she was born. Kodak products were routinely used by the public to take color “snap shots”. The air condition, the escalator and the roller coaster were features already in existence in the West in the early 1900.

Two years after she was born, John F. Kennedy was born and would become the 35th president of the United States of America. Albert Einstein completed his paper on the General Theory of Relativity.  And Adolf Hitler was a young man – a soldier in the World War I. While the Leahy brothers were teenagers. The gold prospecting brothers in search of gold  would be responsible for opening up the highlands of PNG to the outside world in the 1930s

PNG sidled up from the dark ages, blinked and caught the end of the modern era and got sucked into the vortex of the post-modern era.   In doing so, PNG also skipped all the stages that has shaped the history of the modern era – for we were still transitioning in the agriculture age when the West came upon us.

But did my great grandmother know that?

Two things of significance happened that seem to have shaped Papua New Guinea.

First, in less than 100 years, PNG has been forced to assimilate a new culture – the culture of our colonialists. We were forced to adopt the new way of living without understanding how the Western culture was shaped.

Our rank in the world near the bottom of the pile is based on judgement meted us on criteria we have had less than 100 years to adopt  – criteria which took hundreds of years to develop.

Those who have adapted well become impatient and quick to rubbish those who have had less exposure to the ways of the West. Whose fault is it when people cannot fit in?

Second, we blinked and our world transformed from communal living to one that promotes individualism. We were a thousand tribes at the turn of the century, now forced to live in nuclear families. We have not even had time to consolidate our thousand tribal ways into a one-nation identity.

The conflict observed in modern PNG seems to be one that is between the changing times and the instincts  and the life code imprinted in our genetic memory. It is a struggle for many to make a life as individuals when our genes still have imprints of communal living revolving around the tribal council called the “hausman”or men’s house.

The dissolution of the hausman in colonial times has also resulted in a loss of power and education for our warriors. Our warriors have lost the strength to stand their ground, to defend our ways and our land and resources.  And what more, our “males” have lost their potency because they moved into women’s house too soon.

We need to reclaim our lost identity. We have to put the changes in this era into context within our worldview.  But what is our concept of the world right now? Are we warriors or are we weaklings looking for allies?

But before we can settle on a worldview we must agree on a value system that binds the thousand different tribal values into a one-nation package. What values should we embrace?  Is the Melanesian way enough? What is the Melanesian Way, anyway?

We are confused. Caught between western value system and Melanesian value system. We have lost our confidence and self esteem because we are told that our value system – what works for us and what we intuitively know is wrong. We are told to accept the western value system. But that is an alien culture. In our confusion, most of us, like children, are waiting to be led by the hand, while the most progressive among us are taking advantage of our confusion causing corruption.

According to my elders, the death penalty was the order of the day when the hausman ruled. There was no human rights, there were only clan and tribal rights. Your allegiance was to your clan and tribe. Outside of it was death.

It was rough and tough, but order was maintained. Births, initiations, adulthood, marriages, death all had a place and were celebrated. We did not just exist like animals. Tribal living was the order of the day.

Through oral history, I can trace my matriline 300 years back from my grandmother.  From this perspective, I realize, that the blood in my vein is older that colonialism and the 102 years since my great grandmother seem like yesterday and my 40 years of living a blink of an eye.

The realization that I am as old as the history of my tribe but also as young as my nation is liberating.  I have the ancient wisdom of the land in my blood, but I am also educated in the ways of the West and can participate in the technologically advanced life in this post-modern era.  I feel invincible.

Every young person must take the time to find your roots and build your tree.  For the knowledge you will gain is power. The new perspective will provide a stable foundation for you to build your life on. The next generation need to know this information to keep them grounded to the land.  Once you know your place in history pass this knowledge on as a legacy for the future.

 

*** Reposting a draft previously posted  under the title:  Finding Myself in History

Reason why Taripex Settlement is a better option than the village.

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A village setting

According to the 2011 census, the total population of PNG was 7.1 million. About 89% (6.3 million) were the rural people while 11% (770,600) lived in urban areas.

Sharp et al (2015) defines the same population based on economic criteria. The formal sector (13%) is the segment of society who receive a fortnightly wage. While the 87% informal are those involved in any activity that does not factor in the calculation of the country’s gross domestic produce.

Within the formal sector, Cox (2014) throws in a third group – the “predatory elite” – those “who wield real influence in PNG: senior public servants and powerful political patrons or the landowner rentier millionaires who capture the benefits of resource developments.”

When put under scrutiny, the informal sector is a blanket name for two groups: those who remain in the village and those that have migrated to towns in search of opportunities. The villagers are either selling cash crops or just concentrating on subsistence agriculture in the village (Kopel 2017) The village runaways are rural dwellers who have runaway from the village in search for opportunities in the city.

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Groups of people in PNG as classified by different researchers and estimates for this essay.

Papua New Guinea has three cities: Lae, Mt Hagen and Port Moresby with Port Moresby being the biggest and the center of business for PNG.  The 2011 census estimates that the Port Moresby population to be around 320,000.

A report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) assessing the fragility of urban settlements estimated the number of people in the informal settlement population in Port Moresby to be over 50% of the city’s total population (ADB  2013). These settlers are engaged in the informal sector – mostly as vendors.

For the purpose of making our point, and  based on ADB data, we assume that squatter settlements contribute to 50% of city population in PNG. According to this assumption, the settlement population in the three PNG cities may be estimated to just 3.3% of the 2011 PNG population.

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Estimated squatter population from the three PNG cities.

According to estimations,  the predatory elite has the smallest membership (2% or less). Membership of this group have been described as the parasitic group’ because they ‘act as if the control   access to education. The truly elite powerbrokers of PNG monopolise the resources of the state and ensure that those outside their patronage networks are locked out of access to education, employment and other prerequisites of social advancement.”This is made up of politicians and senior bureaucrats and landowners of resource rich provinces and their cronies.

The second group is the working class (10%). These are mostly those in the government’s service (public service) and those in private workforce and businesses.   The public service implements the government directive –  which is to serve the people. The clustering of government service in the urban areas show that this group serve themselves and others in the urban areas.  A tiny percentage of this group struggle to serve the rural masses. These include the teachers, nurses, the police force and the few dedicated  local government bureaucrats.

The third are the villagers and they make the biggest proportion (86%) of the population. The villagers are scattered throughout the country. The government’s mandate is to serve the villager. In reality, the villager is so far outside the government, they seem invisible. The villagers depend on their own system for making it day-to day, the villager uses the most authentic system that has supported life for PNGeans since the dawn of time: kin, custom and barter. In good times, the villager has food, family and shelter and is content living a life with less cargo and little money. In times of disaster, the village needs government support in terms of technology, medicine and food. If not for large scale disasters, the villager will remain invisible.

The fourth group are the urban settlers – the 3.3% of people who escape the village in search of opportunities. The settlers often realize very soon that they need money to survive in the city. This group relies mostly on street vending to raise their income. Their lack of education and qualification keeps them from more technical and decent paying jobs. These people pay no taxes, but they are the most demanding from the government system. Not engaged in meaningful employment and with relatively more free time on their hands, membership in this group are the main mischief makers in the city; causing petty crimes in the society. These group absorbs most of the law and order effort and budget in the cities

Why is it better to be in Taripex settlement than in the village? Despite the hard life and the absence of support from kin, the city is a big market for the village runaway to earn money from street sales. With money they can support themseves. They may have access to running water and light, even if illegally connected. They can access health care. They can send their child to a school where the teacher is always present. Importantly, through hard work, the membership of this group may get an education or make enough money to advance in life. Such opportunities do not exist in the village.

Indeed, people living in cardboard shacks in cities get more charity than people living in the village. Most often donor money for development projects in the country is used up in this group – even though their number is less than the villager.

The government system has lost sight of its duty to its biggest constituent – the villager. It is a contradiction when money for development is earned from resources belonging to the villager, but no goods or services goes back to the village. The money is stuck in the urban areas to maintain a self-serving system that is of no use to the villager. The settler by positioning themselves closer to the government system can punch a hole in the system to get some form of assistance to trickle down to them. The same cannot be said for the villager.

And that is why, it is better to be in Taripex and raising a family than in the village.  It is every person’s human right to seek better opportunities. The movement from the village to the settlements will continue until government services and opportunities for development becomes available in the village.

Reference

ADB (2013) Fragility Assessment of an Informal Urban Settlement in Papua New Guinea

COX, J. (2014)  ‘Grassroots’, ‘Elites’ and the New ‘Working Class’ of Papua New Guinea. State, Society & Governance in Melanesia ips.cap.anu.edu.au/ssgm

Kopel , E., (2017) The Informal Economy In Papua New Guinea: Scoping Review Of Literature And Areas For Further Research . www.pngnri.org

SHARP, J. COX , C. SPARK, S. LUSBY, & M. ROONEY (2015) The Formal, the Informal, and the Precarious: Making a Living in Urban Papua New Guinea. SSGM DISCUSSION PAPER 2015/2

 

 

We need to grow our population

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Bona or  food sharing by the Zia Tribe, Morobe. Papua New Guinea.

Population growth is good for us. If you disagree then you have been brainwashed. Wake up. Think for yourself. Or else when you die, you will do so  without realizing your potential.

All the life-force you will ever need to live a meaningful life – you are born with all that intact.  You inherit your unique potential from two very resilient people – your mother and your father.  Combining this genetic mishmash with the unconscious piling of knowledge from the past that we call instinct. On top of that, the memory bank  inherited from past lives that is passed down through blood. All these are your latent potential.

But wait!  And because you are alive, everyday you can choose to add new tools to your expanding repertoire of arsenal by availing yourself to new experiences.

It has been proven: Your potential can take you from your backwoods, splitting firewood   to splitting genes in a cryonics laboratory. All you need is a razor sharp will.  Your will is your mental power to control and direct your thoughts and actions despite circumstances. If you will it, it will. If you will it not, it will not.

How is all this related to growing a population?

Survival is a numbers game. More people means more heads, more ideas, and a diverse and resilient gene pool. More numbers mean more work force, bigger markets, bigger army, bigger fire power. Louder protests. We increase our human potential when we increase our numbers.

In statistics – the bigger the sample size, the more refined the result. Your potential can only be buoyed and lifted to the next level by sheer force of number. How? Because many people share your value system and history.

Many people means a bigger thinking and reasoning population.  In the face of competition, the life-forces  keep reinventing self to become  more and more  potent. 

In a bigger gene pool, the genetic variation is large. In a bigger genetic pool, we have increased buffer against erosion. In a bigger genetic pool, there is a bigger potential for everything . Why reduce our gene pool? For whose benefit?

The most quoted reason why we should not grow our population is that we do not have enough resources.

What resources? Land is not the problem, we have enough for 8.5 million people… compared to Bali and Sumatra and Lombok – all squashed on a pinhead.
Food? Everybody eats from a garden…. it is in our genes to work the land. Only lazy people do not work the land. Money? There will never be enough money ever, but we can learn to live within our means.

The problem is when we become dependent , our will power is dampened and our power for self-governance is eroded.  The ‘true  north’ of our Melanesian compass is despised as primitive and discarded  for the Eurocentric one. So we become like children, wanting to be like ‘them’, but not knowing how to do, must be led by the hand.

The human potential aka the life-force shimmering under the surface ready is ready to be ignited into action. We need to take our potential back. A bigger population can withstand the erosion of our cultural pride.

What should we do?

First, we need a more smarter and radical leadership.  A leadership that is selfish about PNG. A leadership that is dependent yet independent. A leadership that has pride for country. A leadership that can see the potential that is locked in us. A leadership that understands that, all of us – all people of the world – red, yellow, white or black – we are sojourners:  here today and gone tomorrow.  We need a radical leadership that understands that all cultures and value systems are equal wherever God placed us.  We are built for our environment – like fish, we need water and we do not have to judge ourselves harshly for not becoming a tree climbing fish.

We need a leadership that uses their head and heart to make good long-term decisions for the country and not for their pockets for short-term gain.  Afterall, where in the world will you you say at the end of the day: I have come home; I am home – but here – where your umbilical cord is buried.

In a bigger population, competition will cull mediocrity and the cream of leadership will rise to the top.

Then we need education. Education that gives us pride  in the basics, the laws and principals that opens our eyes to our innate life-force. When we have acknowledged our innate power, then we will start living to our full potential. We will believe in ourselves and not be swayed by latest trends that go against our values.

A good education  gives people options to do many things including the information to control their fertility.  A good education system provides a negative feedback loop to population growth. In 2019, the guesstimate is that we have close to 10 million people – a badly educated 10 million people will become 20 million in the next 20 years. A radical education initiative can half  that predicted number.

In a smaller population, this idea will be scoffed and left to die. In a bigger population, with a bigger thinking capacity, this idea will be buoyed by debates and  criticism until it makes sense, to be embraced and acted upon. And when this idea become common knowledge, generations will just acquire it at birth. People will live it. There will be no need to justify it.

We need to take our country back. It is up to us to decide to grow our population or not and shouldn’t be determined by outsiders.

 

The Nothofagus

Some 100 million years ago, the ancestors of Nothofagus first appeared on Gondwana. Today the  Nothofagus is common in South America, New Zealand, Antarctica, Australia, New Guinea and New Caledonia. The present distribution of the plant is evidence that these landmasses might once have been joined.

Nothofagus is commonly referred to as the southern beech and is a genus of 35 species of trees.  According to the recent data, the Nothofagacea has four subgenera; the Brassopora, the Nothofagus, Fuscospora and the Lophorzonia. Living specimen from those four subgenus are found in New Zealand; South America; New Guinea; New Caledonia.

Fourteen species of Nothofagus are currently recognised in the taxonomically distinct subsection Bipartitae, occurring in New Guinea from 700 – 3,150 m above sea level (asl), mostly above 1400 m asl., in areas of high rainfall and cool climates, except for the New Guinea low altitude occurrences which are normally cloud-bound (Read and Hope 1989).

All members of sub genera Brassospora are gregarious species, commonly dominating the canopy (Keast 1981; Read and Hope 1989). The large canopy tree can grow to 20-50 m high but rarely grows to 60 m and are flat topped. They have a cylindrical bole (up to 150 cm diameter which is straight for up to 25 m long). The tallest tend to occur at valley bottoms or stable slopes; mid altitude slopes canopy ~ 30-40 and comprise one or two species; however, at very high altitude or in environment that is under suboptimal conditions the tree tends to be stunted and shrubby.

Nothofagus is a monoecious trees, accommodating both the male and the female flowers on the same tree.  The male flowers appear earlier than the female and wind dispersed seed results in very poor and regeneration within a short distance of the tree. In addition due to the seeds being wind pollinated, there is a lot of hybridization and introgression, giving rise to seed capsules that are sterile; furthermore, a large proportion of the seed is destroyed by insect predation or fungal attack (Ash 1982).

Tropical Nothofagus are affected by low temperatures because, the tropical Nothofagus are not exposed to extreme temperatures like the Southern species, as a result are not able to photosynthesize in extreme temperatures. Therefore, the New Guinea showed a lower frost resistance than southern species (Read and Hope 1989; Read et al. 2005) which is related to the geographic and climatic range of these species.  This has implications for the climate change. This tree family will be affected as the world heats up further.

Furthermore, Ash (1988) observed dieback in Nothofagus stands on Mount Wilhelm. The dieback was not related to any drought period (Arentz 1988). A possible explanation reached by Ash (1988) and Arentz (1988) is that even aged must die from stress as a result of, nutrient deficiency or infection by a pathogen. Periods of heavy frost which are often associated with drought may provide an additional trigger for stand-level dieback of Nothofagus. However studies of die backs in Tasmania show that the die back is the result of a pathogen attack.   The tree has also been observed to regenerate from diebacks by lignotubers and epicormic stems that coppice after the die back (Arentz 1988).

Nothofagus is widespread in PNG within their attitudinal range. Due to the widespread nature of the tree there is currently no conservation effort. However, because of its slender and straight bole as well as the characteristic of this tree to grow in even-aged stands it is a good building tree. However, in PNG the tree is not exported in significant numbers because grows in inaccessible slopes in the interior.

The Nothofagus species is a remnant of vegetation which was once on the super continent Gondwana, therefore, it is a legacy from that period in the geological history of the earth.

References

  1. ARENTZ, F. (1988) Stand-level dieback etiology and its consequences in the forests of Papua New Guinea. GeoJournal, 17, 209-215.
  2. ASH, J. (1988) Nothofagus (Fagaceae) forest on Mt Giluwe, New Guinea. New Zealand Journal of Botany, 26, 245 – 256.
  3. READ, J. & HOPE, G. S. (1989) Foliar frost resistance of some evergreen tropical extra tropical Australian Nothofagus species. Australian Journal of Botany, 37, 361-373.
  4. READ, J., HOPE, G. S. & HILL, R. (2005) Phytogeography and climate analysis of Nothofagus subgenus Brassospora in New Guinea and New Caledonia. Australian Journal of Botany, 53, 297-312.
  5. READ, J., JAFFRE, T., MCCOY, S. & HOPE, G. S. (2006) Does soil determine the boundaries of monodorminant rainforest with adjacent mixed rain forest and maquis on ultramafic soils in New Caledonia? Journal of Biogeography, 33, 1055-1065.
  6. VAN VALKENBURG, J. L. C. H. & KETNER, P. (1994) Vegetation changes following human disturbance of mid-montane forest in the Wau area, Papua New Guinea. Journal of Tropical Ecology, 10, 41-54.
  7. HYNDMAN, D. C. & MENZIES, J. I. (1990) Rain Forests of the Ok Tedi Headwaters, New Guinea: An ecological analysis. Journal of Biogeography, 17, 241-273.
  8. KEAST, A. (1981) Ecological biogeography of Australia, Junk bv Publishers, The Hague, Boston,.

My Culture, my Pride.

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No-one can teach you how to be a Melanesian, the unspoken nuances we intuitively know – it is flowing in our blood, the blood of a proud people, warriors, headhunters , refined over thousands of years.

Our culture grounds us in our environment, for it was built for us and and suits us and it served our ancestors and is still serving us today. In our domain, among melanesians, we can maintain our own –  the Sepik is as good as New Ireland is as good as Enga and so on.

On a bigger stage, our culture is as good as any in the world. We can proudly take our stand with all other cultures in the tribal council. We are survivors, for we have survived as one nation made up of a thousand tribes.

But the fact of the matter is that the western culture has taken over the world. Their domination of the world is very thorough that all other cultures must be westernised to even register as a nation.

The western way of life has merits and demerits. The thrust of the western culture is to homogenise all cultures – from clothes to language to unit of transaction. Cultures are judged harshly for not fitting in. For instance, the nations of the world are ranked by the height of their stash of cash. If your stash is small, then you are a failed nation. But what is money to cultures who have no need for it? The western culture seeks to perpetuate their criteria –  a criteria shaped by their  value system.

The demise of our culture is perpetuated further when we  shun our culture as ‘kanaka’, because we have been brainwashed that ours is primitive and the glamour of the West is the standard.  In our  haste to fit in, we are found wanting because we will never become ‘westernised’ enough.

But the fact remains, our culture is our identification marker, suitable for us and it defines who we are. Our culture can only be as strong as we make it to be.

Our challenge now is to give prominence to our very own culture regardless of pressures from outside.

When people come to our land, let us show them that we are proud of our culture because it is our identity and it is worth the prominence of place we give it.

What legacy are we leaving for the grand kids?

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Mother and child fishing on the Lake Kutubu in the Foe and Fasu Tribal Land. Kutubu, Southern Highlands Province, PNG

In our haste to pimp our short lives on earth, we have altered the value system and the balance that has preserved nature for millions of years. What kind of future do we envisage for the grand kids, when we race to build jungles of concrete, steel and glass? How are we helping the future when we create artificial food, color it and store them in cans? What indeed is the life we want for our descendants when our actions show that nature conservation is dirty and primitive and concrete jungles are modern and fashionable?

The human at home in his natural environment depended on nature and was sustained by  the resources in nature. From hardware needs, to medicine and food and spirituality – all from nature.

When humans still depended on nature, the economy of nature was based on sharing  surplus because everything was perishable.  The demarcation of roles and responsibilities and the specialization of clans and tribes nurtured the barter system. Man bartered for things he did not have with things he had in surplus. The specialisation and barter system sustained the subsistance economy.

Then, man discovered plastic.The ability to cement, brick, glass and plastic inventions into eternity made him forget that life is fragile and breakable and that the human body starts dying as soon as we are born. This power to stave off wrinkles, disease and death and create life in test tube infused men with a sense of arrogance and reckless power.

The base instinct of the arrogant  man is dictated by the selfish gene.  The selfish gene is an atheist, it has no empathy nor morals. It is greedy.  The selfish gene, drunk in his own powers is concerned with perpetuating itself at all cost. Self, family, clan and tribe – that is his circle of trust. The controls put in place by society and culture to ensure co’operation, exists only within his circle of trust. Anything outside is enemy.

In his greed, man has also hastened decay rate of nature, just because he can.  Man is razing thousands of years of old forest in a blink of an eye and slaughtering octogenarian elephants and rhino to make earrings and bangles. Digging and drilling to pimp his short life – to dress it up – to make life as useful as a chimpanzee all decked out: alas;  only 1% genetic material separates humans from chimpanzees. We are but glorified chimps, so who are we trying to impress?

It is indeed a paradox: the selfish gene is short-sighted – thoughtlessly raping and pillaging and wastefully hoarding and in the process, destroying the incubator that will grow more for tomorrow. While we hoard today, there is zero guarantee that the generation tomorrow will embrace the values and the treasures we hold dear today.

Humans need to put life and living into perspective,  to acknowledge that death is inevitable, that we are sojourners.  We came from dust, to dust we will return to become worm food that becomes soil that becomes tree food that feeds humans. What then is our legacy to our future? What kind of philosophy are we passing on.

Instead of money or bottles or cans or plastic,  the best gift for the future may be  a value system. A value system that respects life. A value system that acknowledges human and nature interdependency.

We cannot control the future,  the best we can do is give the future a planet that is living. Give the future elephants and zebra and birds of paradise. Give them forests and lakes and coral reefs.  And plant a seed of respect for nature in their minds then give them a benefit of  a doubt that the seed will grow and one day  become a tree and bear fruit.

Environment conservation and environment annihilation are on the extreme ends of the continuum of human survival. In the course of living, we tread the fine line between overuse and sustainable use. Greed has blurred the line in favor of hoarding for one over preserving for all. We need to rethink our priorities and acknowledge the grim outcome of greed.

Conservation conversations are philosophical in nature. It is about the careful examination of the interdependence of man and nature. It requires that man identify and own his role in space and time. Indeed, conservation efforts require a sincere commitment to life and living where the only ego is the one that is happy to see human life and nature flourish side-by-side.

 

Commemorating 500 years of reformation in Papua New Guinea

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Flags at the 3oth Synod at Heldsbach Finschhafen, Morobe Province.: Lutheran Church flag, the PNG flag and the Morobe Provincial flag. Photo Tanya Zeriga-ALone

This year 2017, marks the 500th year since Martin Luther, a German monk and doctor of theology was excommunicated from the Roman Church at that time for suggesting changes  based on the Bible. Through study, Martin Luther was convicted by these four gospel truths: Scripture alone, faith alone, grace alone and Christ alone: salvation is a free gift from God  given to those who seek after it  in faith and cannot be bought or achieved through good works.

Martin Luther’s purpose was clear – to correct the erroneous teachings on sin  and salvation and to  take believers back to a faith as was intended by  the forerunners of the Christian faith.

Martin Luther’s followers are called the Lutherans. Protestantism was born from this action in history. Protestants believe that only Jesus is the head of the church.

The Lutheran Church was in existence for over 3 centuries by the time it arrived on the shores of Papua New Guinea (PNG) in the late 1800.  PNG was a dark and unknown place at the turn of the century – tribal fights, sorcery, payback killing were common. Isolated in their own little worlds, Papua New Guineans were animists, believing that spirits controlled their life.

The gospel arrived with Reverend Johannes Flierl, a Neuendettelsau Missionary from the Kingdom of Bavaria, Germany.  The gospel in PNG began in the Finschhafen and Madang area and spread into the rest of Papua New Guinea. As it was in the days of Luther, the gospel liberated people from the fear of the unknown and freed multitudes from the power of spirits and death.

The pioneer missionaries both local and expatriates paid a price for the freedom we enjoy today. In those early days, missionaries risked their lives for the sake of the gospel. They crossed tribal boundaries, brokered peace between tribal enemies.  These pioneers also uprooted their families and moved them far from the security of kinsman – all for the sake of the gospel.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of PNG (ELCPNG) of the 21st century grew out from the work of the Neuendettelsau and Rhenish Missionaries from Gemany. When the World War II reached the Pacific in 1942, most of the early German missionaries were repatriated. After the war, the Lutheran Churches of Australia and America were tasked to reconstruct the church, which the parties did together as the Lutheran Missions New Guinea.

It was in 1956 that the indigenous church was formed and called the Evangelical Church of New Guinea (ELCONG). The first Bishop was Rev. Kuder from the American Lutheran Church.

It was in the 1970s, that the ELCONG changed to ELCPNG. The first indigenous bishop was elected in 1973 and since then, the church has been run by the nationals. At the 500th year of reformation, the ELCPNG has had 30 synods.  The current ELCPNG Bishop is Reverand Jack Urame.

Earlier this year, the ELCPNG celebrated 131 years off Lutheranism. The ELCPNG is the second most popular church in PNG with 1.2 million members out of the 8 million population.  The ELCPNG is made up of 17 districts. These districts are further grouped into circuits, parishes and congregations is the lowest church unit recognised by the church.

The freedom to worship we enjoy today  is because this reformer broke the chains of oppression that kept people in slavery for lack of access to the truth. The message of hope and freedom in this act of reformation is timeless – it was real then, as it is now.

Papua New Guinea’s position in the reformation history is similar to the parable of the Labourers in Matthew 20: 1-16. We are like the worker who was recruited at 4pm to work in the garden only to get paid same wage as the man who started work at 7am. We are privileged to be born at a time when the gospel is free. We have not sacrificed for the gospel, no blood was shed like in the days of Luther.

The gospel may be free, but we are faced with new challenges. In this age and time, the church is under pressure to conform to the standards of the world.  Fatigue has also set in. As one of the last workers in the field, maybe we are called to re-evangelise the church. Maybe with our youthful exuberance, we are called to keep the 500 year old flame alive into the future.  May we seek Gods will about our place in the reformation story.

As we celebrate this momentous occasion let us remember that reformation is not just an historical event rather it is process of continually walking in faith according to the word of God. Reformation in this day and time is about testing passing trends against the timeless wisdom in the bible. We as individuals as well as the body of ELCPNG must step up and take our place in the reformation story.

Amen.

 

Celebrating the life of a great man.

We thank you for your life. Hero in life as in death.
Rest in Peace Larry Orsak.

Lifework Larry

To the many friends, family, colleagues and students of Larry Orsak:

It is with the greatest sadness that I have learned of the passing of my dear older brother, Larry Joe Orsak (15 October 1953- 6 July 2017) in Papua New Guinea at the University of Technology campus, Lae.  From Albert Schram, Vice-Chancellor, I have learned that the cause of death was stroke/heart attack. Larry was 64 years of age.

The forestry department will be organizing a traditional “haus krai” for Larry, from Monday 10 July to Friday 21 July. For those who may be unfamiliar with PNG culture, here is a thoughtful article on how that takes place:

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2012/06/the-naked-truth-about-death-in-png.html

From Lae, Larry’s body will be brought to his adopted village of Baitabag in Madang for further ceremonies and final burial, the transfer from Lae to Madang to happen on or about 20 July.

There is absolutely no question…

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