The Three Cultures: Shaman, Warrior, Merchant

In celebration of Father’s Day, here’s an excerpt from a letter to the editor my dad wrote to the LA Times in response to an article:

“I believe there are only three cultures: Shaman, Warrior, Merchant. None is either better or worse, and all offer their victories and their honors for mankind. As I’m sure you would recognize, we live in a Merchant Culture. A Merchant Culture only sees a forest cut down and turned into cash. A Warrior Culture views the forest in terms of military strategy. A Shaman Culture views it as full of mystery and magic. Art is the commodification of some of the strengths of Shaman Culture. Art allows Shaman-like endeavors to be purchased (something that cannot be purchased does not exist in Merchant Culture). As long as we are in a Merchant Culture, we will turn everything into cash until everything is gone. In a state of stresses on supplies of food and water, a Warrior Culture will turn pretty ugly pretty fast. Our only hope, it seems, is to depart Merchant Culture for Shaman Culture. I’m no expert on Shamanism, but it’s not about art…it’s not about mild / safe / reasonable stimulation. I think it’s about believing that a complex, irrational wisdom is bursting out of everything. Modern man (Merchant Man) is too deep into a zombie state to notice, let alone comprehend in even the most minimal way such a possibility. We need a Shaman, not a playwright. We need to believe and experience the results of deep, dangerous, impossible faith.” — John Kilroy

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