Going Native

I've seen two films this last week about people who grew up in the West but eventually lived for a while with other (now vanishing) cultures: Keep the River on Your Right about Tobias Schneebaum, and Wade Davis: The Explorer (part of the touring MountainFilm Festival). They're both very different films, but what came across from these character studies was the sense of peace that each of them have about themselves and others. Each of them were described at one point as social chameleons by their friends—able to be accepted and join any group they happen to find themselves in. Tobias Schneebaum lived with a tribe in Papua New Guinea, and Wade Davis participated in Voodoo ceremonies in Haiti among other things. As I watched I kept thinking how were they accepted? "My intuition unhindered by biases served me well," [Davis] says. "I didn't make any judgments." (from Magic, Witchcraft, and Religion.) By experiencing the world in alternate ways, they both seem to have found a way to relate to others despite vast cultural differences. Or maybe the differences aren't as vast as they seem.