“We have virtually abandoned living in traditional societies,” explains Diamond when we meet. “But this was the only way of life that humans knew for their first 6m years on the planet. In giving it up over the past few thousand years, we have lost our vulnerability to disease and cold and wild animals, but we have also lost good ways to bring up children, look after old people, stave off diabetes and heart disease and understand the real dangers of everyday life.”
One of those methods of dealing with the elderly:
The Kaulong people of New Britain used to have an extreme way of dealing with families in mourning. Until the 1950s, newly widowed women on the island off New Guinea were strangled by their husband’s brothers or, in their absence, by one of their own sons. Custom dictated no other course of action. Failure to comply meant dishonour, and widows would make a point of demanding strangulation as soon as their husbands had expired.
We’ve lost so much of value with this civilisation shit, haven’t we?
Other habits have included infanticide and outbreaks of war between neighbours, though these are balanced with many cases of care and compassion, particularly for the elderly, and a concern for the environment that shames the west.
“Concern for the environment” eh? It is hunter gatherer societies that ravage it more than any other when population pressure rises. Vide the extinction of all of the edible megafauna where ever mankind emigrated to.