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FOR TEACHERS
The Ishmael Companion
Beyond Civilization
 Study Guide


 

From My Ishmael:
Excerpt 4

Emptying the Leaver treasury

Ishmael. Let’s see, Julie, if you can penetrate to the core of my
message to you. See if you can discern what I’m saying to you
again and again, every which way.

Julie, after giving it some thought. You’re trying to show me where
the treasure is.

Ishmael. That’s it exactly, Julie. The people of your culture imagine
that the treasury was completely empty when you came along and
began to build civilization ten thousand years ago. You imagine that
the first three million years of human life brought nothing of value
to the store of human knowledge but fire and stone tools. In fact,
however, you began by emptying the treasury of its most precious
elements. You wanted to start with nothing and invent it all, and
you did. Unfortunately, aside from the products (which work very
well), you’ve been able to invent very little that works well—for
people. Your system of writing laws that you know will be broken
works very badly for people, but no matter where you look in your
treasury you can’t find a system to replace it with, because you
started by throwing that system away. But it’s still there, working
perfectly, in the Leaver treasury I’m showing you. Your system of
punishing people who break the laws invented to be broken works
very badly for people, but no matter where you look in your
treasury you can’t find a system to replace it with, because you
started by throwing that system away. But it’s still there, working
perfectly, in the Leaver treasury I’m showing you. Your educational
system works very badly for people, but no matter where you look
in your treasury you can’t find a system to replace it with, because
you started by throwing that system away. But it’s still there,
working perfectly, in the treasury I’m showing you. All the things
I’ve shown you and will show you before we’re finished were in
the treasury of every Leaver people you’ve overrun and destroyed.
Every one of those peoples knew how priceless these treasures were
that you were trampling into the dirt. Many of them tried to make
you see their value, but they never succeeded. Can you figure out
why?

Julie. I think it would be because. . . We’d look at it this way:
“Well, sure the Sioux think their way of life is terrific. Big deal.
Sure the Arapaho think they should be left alone. Why wouldn’t
they?”

Ishmael. That’s right. If I succeed in showing the value of what
you discarded, it won’t be because I’m more brilliant than they
but because I’m not one of them.

Julie. I get it.

 

 


More excerpts from
THE TEACHINGS

 

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