Far too many of us moderns eulogise the simple life. The thatched hut in the tropical village, chickens scratching in the Sun, the simple life with no stress and little strain. There is though a reason why our forefathers stampeded for whatever modernity they could grab ahold of, something usefully illustrated by the recent death of the actor, Mungau Dain.
Dain was from one of the more traditional villages in the Solomon Islands, living that Rousseauesque life free from the complications of the modern world:
Jimmy Joseph, the cultural director for Tanna island, said Dain was quiet, humble and respected in Yakel, where he had chosen to remain living even after achieving some fame in the movie. He said Dain never drank or smoke. People in the village typically choose to live as they have for centuries, in simple thatch huts and wearing nothing but grass skirts or a penis shield called a nambas. They raise crops and pigs, and observe a traditional way of life known as kastom.
OK, great. And of course anyone who wishes to live that way is entirely at liberty to do so. It’s just that it all does come with some costs:
Mungau Dain had never considered acting before he starred in the Oscar-nominated film “Tanna.” He got the role because his elders decided he was the best-looking guy in their traditional village on the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu. They would later describe him as their answer to Brad Pitt. Dain died Saturday in the capital Port Vila, after contracting a leg infection that wasn’t quickly treated. He was in his mid-20s.
One of those complications of modern life being simple antibiotics which cure the infections which can and do kill us without them. Something for those pining for the old ways to consider. Rousseau was actually wrong, it was Hobbes who was correct. Primitive life is, all too often, nasty, brutish and short. It’s modernity that gives us that opportunity for the three score and ten.