Thursday, April 5, 2007

The "Cargo Cult"

During World War II, as part of their operations in Japan the US air force started constructing air bases throughout New Guinea to act as base camps. The startled locals watched on wide eyed as the troops laid out the runway, constructed a control tower and went about building all the things an airstrip needs to operate. Then, from the skies planes started landing on the airstrip! They brought with them plentiful supplies of clothing, food and all the necessaries for life. The indigenous population were spell bound by the events that had unfolded in front of their very eyes and came to a few interesting conclusions.

  1. They decided that they too would like food to mystically be delivered from the skies

2. They figured that it would be quite a simple operation to achieve this.

So with much fervour and energy they set about clearing their own patch of land, and marking out their own primitive runway, they proceeded to construct a makeshift control tower out of logs, and they even fashioned some coconut headphones for the control tower operators. All was in place, and they sat and they waited, and waited, and then waited some more, but nothing happened.

Then they decided that it was obvious why this didn’t work, they still hadn’t got the whole formula correct! They started performing the military marches they had seen at the US airbase and even wrote USA on their chests with dye from local fruit to appear like the soldiers they had seen. That didn’t work either, so they then decided to make an airplane of their own out of sticks and leave it beside the runway so as to attract other airplanes that would surely come and join it as an act of sympathy.

The airplanes never did land on their airstrips, and the reason was not a lack of effort or persistence, or a lack or creativity, the reason why it didn’t work was that they completely missed the boat altogether. They went ahead with all these operations without really understanding what was happening.

The story of the so called “cargo cults” serves to remind us that, you can put all the time, effort and planning into something, but, if you haven’t truly grasped the basics and fundamentals you will end up with nothing, except a lot of wasted time.
The video below is taken of a group of locals waiting around for a plane...

1 comment:

Rowan Manahan said...

Priceless! I do hope it's true.