Construir a paz nas mentes dos homens e das mulheres

Unsettling freedom: nomadism today

Nomads are misfits in the modern world. The state likes to see them settled in one place, to "integrate" them and keep tabs on them. The sedentary population is suspicious of them because it does not understand their way of life. They have no place in a narrowminded conception of modern civilization which only accepts what can be pinned down, predicted and programmed.

They live on the outer edge of the economic system, usually on unproductive land, practising a frugal and uncertain way of life. They are shy of frontiers and avoid controls and supervision. Everything about them is a challenge to modern society. They take what it rejects and esteem values and codes it has abandoned. They melt away into vast landscapes desert, forests, lakes, steppes which the sedentary may regard as hostile but which for them mean life, beauty, poetry and freedom.

This issue of the Courier records some of the things that nomads have to tell us. In a more general way it may also stimulate reflection about difference and the difficulty of being different today, about the spread of intolerance, about the fears and anxieties that lead people to reject what is at variance with themselves.

In any case, what sort of world would it be if everyone conformed to the same pattern? In such a world we should not only die of boredom, but of inability to adapt, to change, to renew ourselves to meet life's unending challenges. For societies, as for living organisms, diversity is a necessary condition of survival. As the nomads, with their thousands of years of history, remind us.

Discover this issue. Download the PDF. 

November 1994

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