I have eaten roasted ants (large ones) in chocolate sauce and fried witchetty grubs (large wood…
Daan Spijer

Life’s Manual

On the topic of socialisation, it would be an ideal world if children were truly taught where their food comes from. We may be squeamish about it, but it is liberating to kill an animal that you then prepare (skin, gut, etc.) and eat. I have done this with fish, eels, rabbits, kangaroo; and I have been present while a farmer killed, gutted and skinned a sheep. It is a sad reality that so many children have no connection with the origins of the food they eat — no, carrots do not grow in the supermarket. Many do catch and kill and eat fish, but that seems to be the extent of it.

There would be outrage from many (maybe most) parents if they received a note from school to say that Jill or Jack were going on an excursion with their class to visit an abattoir. The source of our foods and the source of our babies seem to engender horror, to the extent that we cannot have open, frank, age-appropriate conversations with our youngsters about these important topics. We really do shelter them too much from life and then hope that they can muddle through and not get it wrong.

I know it’s really another topic, but, although we keep hearing that there is no user’s manual for life, there actually is — it resides in the experience of our elders. The manual includes instructions on:

  • behaviour towards and relationship with other, no matter what their gender, skin colour, beliefs or origin;
  • relationship with the planet and all that exists on it, in a way that preserves it for future human generations and for the other life-forms on it;
  • in particular, treating all people as equal, with respect, compassion and humility, starting with self-respect and self-love;
  • learning that each human has a body and we are not all that different and we are nudged along by our desires and drives: sex, hunger, thirst, survival — and how to negotiate those in a complex society;
  • those bodies work best when looked after, so information on how to look after those bodies effectively.

Ultimately, of course, our wellbeing and our very survival will depend on not screwing up the environment that is around us and within us — which we are not separate from.

It is all simultaneously complex and superbly simple.

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