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Unformatted text preview: s more highly cherished than any riches. It is also true of communal solidarity, that veritable social treasure trove by which much of the Third World continues to live against all economic logic. For example, practices like ostentatious display, colourful parades, ritual challenges, and the various forms of sensual enjoyment which enrich social life are now in the process of losing their meaning. What sense does a rise in the standard of living have for a nomad society in the desert which aspires to lightness and frugality? In fact, the obsession with the standard of living and its increase has caused an unprecedented impoverishment of life by neglecting some of its principal dimensions. Death, for one, is struck dead. Instead it has become simply a failure of human enterprise, an inevitable loss entered on the balance sheet. In many previous societies, wealth was considered a gift left behind by the deceased. Material wealth was not regarded as a means of accumulation, but as a proof that the living recognize their debt to the dead. Now, however, the dead are merely seen as having been expelled from the realm of economics and deleted from the commercial register of the living. The loss of the meaning of death is perhaps the greatest source of impoverishment of modern man. There is no longer a price to buy peace. The Westerner is condemned to live his death as a failure and to deaden his life in order to ease the pain and forget the final absurdity. Likewise, illness and ageing are also seen as partial failures in the West. It is part of the hidden treasures of societies in the Third World, however, that they still conserve different attitudes towards the old and the sick. Illness and ageing are not considered as natural curses that separate the individual from the world of the living and which must be treated in isolation, shame and guilt. They may be a source of tragic conflict if the cause is attributed to witchcraft, but they are also sources of personal and social enrichment. Suffering has only become unbearable and intolerable in...
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This document was uploaded on 11/20/2013.
- Fall '13