I agree with you when you say that prohibiting a behavior never eliminates the behavior; it is psychologically and historically sound. What I have trouble doing is formulating an alternative method.

When I explain this to people, they believe that I am crazy to think that laws don’t prevent behavior. They argue that without laws the world would turn to anarchy.

Could you cite an example of how a tribe might handle a homicide, especially when people frequently want revenge on the perpetrator of such a violent crime?

I recently saw a show on the Discovery Channel that attempted to explore the life of a tribal society (though for the life of me I cannot remember their name). In that group, young women are married off by their fathers to men they have never met.

The young women are guarded day and night (and this reminded me of the tale of the adulterous wife in one of your books, but in this case the women are not loosely guarded, they are FIERCELY guarded), and many young women choose to take their lives, since they are not capable of flight as an alternative to marrying the men they have been assigned to.

I have mixed feelings here. How can I hold true to a “there is no one right way for a people to live” philosophy while still regreting that here is a society that unnecessarily sheds life because of one of the rules of its culture.

Taker culture says that they should not do this. How can I say that it is “OK because it is THEIR culture” without sounding like some sort of monster?

I live near a Lake Champlain in the northeastern U.S. The lake has various “nuisance” species such as lampreys, zebra mussels, and Eurasian milfoil. These are not native to this ecosystem but have been introduced by human activity.

The government spends a great deal of money on control measures for these species—mechanical, biological, and chemical—such as applying TFM (3-trifluoromethyl-4-nitrophenol) to tributaries to kill lamprey larvae.

As I understand the message of Ishmael, these measures should be discouraged because they are based on the view that humans should be in control of what plants and animals live in the lake. That is, that we decide how the ecosystem should function and attempt to align it with our ideals.

Based on my study of your work I conclude we should leave the lake to evolve with the new species, but I have a kernel of doubt about my conclusion since humans were responsible for the ecosystem being changed in the first place. Can you share your thoughts on this?

I’m 14 years old, and i live in southeastern michigan. The main reason im writing you is because i cant get people to take anything involved with saving the earth seriously. when i say people i mean the kids in my class, but it scares me that if people take that attitude towards these kinds of issues then we’re pretty well doomed.

its not that i want to tell them how they should live there lives, its that i want them to at least try to understand what were in for if we continue to treat our world this way. i am hoping that since most of them will have read Ishmael by the time i go back to school, that it will have had some kind of impact on them.

i dont really know what kind of response im expecting or if im going to get one, but i just wanted to see if there’s any way i can get people to listen to me and you and all the others that seek freedom from the doom that is sure to come upon our world.

Mr. Quinn, held within every one of your books is a certain type of knowledge which I perceived to be almost “common sense” or complete earthly logic. But I fail to understand how everyday individuals are either shocked by your “revelations” or completely unfazed by them. It is as if everyone on the planet is living their lives without the guidance of any logical thought progression whatsoever.

So my question is, why do you think that so many individuals who play important roles in our society don’t seem to make the connection that one section of the planet is interconnected with all other sections? Why are questions like “Don’t you like to breath clean air?” “Yes.” “Then why do you drive an SUV?” answered with blank stares.

Is something turning our logical progressive brains off? I know its sort of a non-answerable question but I thought I would see what you would say in hopes of quelling my frustrations.

I am troubled by your answer to question #637. Perhaps I am misinterpreting your intent, but as I read your answer you are denigrating the idea that “exploiting natural resources to human advantage” might be a good thing to do for the people that the Peace Corps volunteers are trying to help, that is people who live a marginal or even a sub-marginal existence.

Even keeping in mind that “development” can be, and generally has been, very destructive, your answer seems to exclude any consideration of the possibility of “sustainable development” as a workable and useful concept.