Saturday, 27 September 2014
“No strangers : ancient wisdom in the modern world”
An exhibition of photographs about the daily lives, experiences, culture and plight of indigenous people throughout the world was held at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh earlier this year.
For me it was a moving and humbling exhibition and my attention was arrested by its introductory text which was mounted on a board at the entrance. I asked at the Botanic Garden’s reception desk if there were copies of the text. Alas there were none so I borrowed pen and paper and with the help of my wife copied the text (as we saw a number of other visitors do). I have posted it below.
I believe the author of the text is Wade Davis, a Canadian anthropologist and writer, who curated the exhibition.
The words leave me with questions about how different human communities relate to each other. I think they offer possible directions for thought about how we exercise our respect for others and how we may help our children respect and care for people from communities different from their own. I believe many of my generation have singularly failed, and continue to fail, to do this.
Here is the text. As ever your comments are welcome.
No strangers : ancient wisdom in a modern world
Over the last decade science has revealed how closely people around the world are connected. We are all brothers and sisters. We are all descendants of common ancestors who walked out of Africa some 60,000 years ago. Their epic journey continued over 2500 generations, carrying the human spirit to every habitable corner of the world.
If all of humanity emerged from the same fountain of life, all cultures share the same raw genius, How this intellectual potential is expressed is simply a matter of choice and circumstance.
Traditional societies are not failed attempts to be modern, let alone failed attempts to be like us. Every culture is a unique expression of human imagination and heart. When asked what it means to be human and alive, the peoples of the world respond in 7000 different voices, 7000 languages that together express the full wisdom and knowledge of our species, insights that no doubt will prove invaluable to future generations, even as we continue this never ending journey.
You can find out more about the photographers whose work was shown in the exhibition at
To discover more about Wade Davis visit