Recently, I re-watched “The Gods must be Crazy,” which was filmed in Botswana. I'd forgotten what a a great and enlightening movie this was, where the bush people's lives are intertwined in a revelation into being impacted with new evils, which what we would refer to as mere trash. A coke bottle leads this movie away into which we learn concepts about a utopian society. The Bushman live in an area where any normal person would die from malnutrition, they live in complete isolation from the world, and do not have to deal with others. They don't punish children because children are well behaved, they use arrows to help hunt animals, and in general, they live in a peaceful world. This sounds so ideal that it makes me want to be transported there. Oh, in a way I am there—or near there anyway, maybe I'll hop the next Kombie and see for myself what utopia is really about!
It's funny how a coke bottle that got sent from the sky led them to think it was from the heavens itself, and suddenly an unfamiliar emotion came involved. Anger, jealousy, violence, all came from this new bottle, and the unbreakable bottle was ultimately referred to as an evil thing. The gods were crazy because they only sent rain and sunlight, and now the bottle was something different. The bottle, which they thought was a gift from the God's, turned into evil when the village was fighting over it's usage. There's a whole realm without knowledge of outer evils, and a realm in which we take for granted the precious things that we have. To other people, that bottle is mere trash, but this trash becomes someone elses treasure, and gives them a vision of the realm outside their comfort zone. Everything was peaceful until something of the unknown came into existence.
I write about this movie because in some ways I feel like that coke bottle. An unknown, a crazy human, having been dropped into this small village. Being the lone white person who talks different, acts different, eats different, and moves different from them, is causing this village some upheaval. Not to mean that it's a bad upheaval, but it's making the villagers look beyond the confines of what they know, to test reactions of feeling emotionally threatened or perceived envy, and testing their levels and layers of curiosity to a world outside of their own. Even though this wasn't part of the movie, the words to a very popular Paul Simon song comes flooding into my mind because it captures my feelings:
“A man walks down the street
It's a street in a strange world
Maybe it's the Third World
Maybe it's his first time around
He doesn't speak the language
He holds no currency
He's a foreign man
He is surrounded by the soOoOound,
Cattle in the Marketplace
Scatterlings and orphanages
He looks around, around
He sees angels in the architecture
Spinning in infinity
He says Amen! And Hallelujah!
I, too, vascillate between wanting to preserve old ways and moving forward, but no matter, in my mind, it's good in any society to have different feelings---it's good that human's are a little crazy, we can't just feel the same way about everything all the time. Botswana is a society that is based on high ideals, and it may still strive for the utopian what if everything was fine, no crime, and everyone lives peaceful lives. Yet, whether they want it or not, Botswana is also very much a developing country, but this small village has a strange coke bottle in it. Having now lived here for several months, I feel the strangeness from them, I feel it from me to them too, but I embrace those feelings, learn from them, grow from them, and laugh from them. Because of all the differences and feelings, I now have an empathy for the Batswana people, but most of all, I'm gonna try not to litter as best I can, with the knowledge that throwing something vertically in the air won't solve our problems.