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A Public Service Message from the American Income Life Insurance CompanyExecutive offices, Waco, TexasBernard Rapoport, Pres. furthering an interest that is consciously selfish. We often do the same thing in our so-called “altruistic” practices, but we tell ourselves it is for the good of others. The Ik have dispensed with the myth of altruism. Though they have no centralized leadership or means of physical coercion, they do hold together with remarkable tenacity. In our world, where the family has also lost much of its value as a social unit and where religious belief no longer binds us into communities, we maintain order only through coercive power that is ready to uphold a rigid law and through an equally rigid penal system. The Ik, however, have learned to do without coercion, either spiritual or physical. It seems that they have come to a recognition of what they accept as man’s basic selfishness, of his natural determination to survive as an individual before all else. This they consider to be man’s basic right, and they allow others to pursue that right without recrimination. In large-scale societies such as our own, where members are individual beings rather than social beings, we rely on law for order. The absence of both a common law and a common belief would surely result in lack of any community of behavior; yet Ik society is not anarchical. One might well expect religion, then, to play a powerful role in Icien life, providing a source of unity. The Ik, as may be expected, do not run true to form. When I arrived, there were still three ritual priests alive. From them and from the few other old people, I learned something of the Ik’s belief and practice as they had been before their world was so terribly changed. There had been a powerful unity of belief in Didigwari a sky god and a body of ritual practice reinforcing secular behavior that was truly social. Didigwari himself is too remote to be of much practical significance to the Ik. He created them and abandoned them and retreated into his domain somewhere in the sky. He never came down to earth, but the abang [ancestors] have all known life on earth; it is only against them that one can sin and only to them that one can turn for help, through the ritual priest. While Morungole has no legends attached to it by the Ik, it nonetheless figures in their ideology and is in some ways regarded by them as sacred. I had noticed this by the almost reverential way in which they looked at it none of the shrewd cunning and cold appraisal with which they regard the rest of the world. When they talked about it, there was a different quality to their voices. They seemed incapable of talking about Morungole in any other way, which is probably why they talked about it so very seldom. Even that weasel Lomongin became gentle the only time he talked about it to me. He said, “If Atum and I were there, we would not argue. It is a good place.” I asked if he meant that it was full of food. He said yes. “Then why do Ik never go there?” “They do go there.” “But if hunting is good there, why not live there?” “We don’t hunt there, we just go there.” “Why?” “I told you, it is a good place.” If I did not understand him, that was my fault; for once he was doing his best to communicate something to me. With others it was the same. All agreed that it was “a good place.” One added, “That is the Place of God.” Lolim, the oldest and greatest of the ritual priests, was also the last. He was not much in demand any longer, but he was still held in awe, which means kept at a distance. Whenever he approached a di, people cleared a space for him, as far away from themselves as possible. The Ik rarely called on his services, for they had little to pay him with, and he had equally little to offer them. The main things they did try to get out of him were certain forms of medicine, both herbal and magical. Lolim said that he had inherited his power from his father. His father had taught him well but could not give him the power to hear the abang that had to come from the abang themselves. He had wanted his oldest son to inherit and had taught him everything he could. But his son, Longoli, was bad, and the abang refused to talk to him. They talked instead to his oldest daughter, bald Nangoli. But there soon came the time when all the Ik needed was food in their stomachs, and Lolim could not supply that. The time came when Lolim was too weak to go out and collect the medicines he needed. His children all refused to go except Nangoli, and then she was jailed for gathering in Kidepo Park. Lolim became ill and had to be protected while eating the food I gave him. Then the children began openly ridiculing him and teasing him, dancing in front of him and kneeling down so that he would trip over them. His grandson used to creep up behind him and with a pair of hard sticks drum a lively tattoo on the old man’s bald head. I fed him whenever I could, but often he did not want more than a bite. Once I found him rolled up in his protective ball, crying. He had had nothing to eat for four days and no water for two. He had asked his children, who all told him not to come near them. The next day I saw him leaving Atum’s village, where his son Longoli lived. Longoli swore that he had been giving his father food and was looking after him. Lolim was not shuffling away; it was almost a run, the run of a drunken man, staggering from side to side. I called to him, but he made no reply, just a kind of long, continuous and horrible moan. He had been to Longoli to beg him to let him into his compound because he knew he was going to die in a few hours, Longoli calmly told me afterward. Obviously Longoli could not do a thing like that: a man of Lolim’s importance would have called for an enormous funeral feast. So he refused. Lolim begged Longoli then to open up Nangoli’s asak for him so that he could die in her compound. But Longoli drove him out, and he died alone. Atum pulled some stones over the body where it had fallen into a kind of hollow. I saw that the body must have lain parallel with the oror. Atum answered without waiting for the question: “He was lying looking up at Mount Meraniang.” Insofar as ritual survived at all, it could hardly be said to be religious, for it did little or nothing to bind Icien society together. But the question still remained : Did this lack of social behavior and communal ritual or religious expression mean that there was no community of belief? Belief may manifest itself, at either the individual or the communal level, in what we call morality, when we behave according to certain principles supported by our belief even when it seems against our personal interest. When we call ourselves moral, however, we tend to ignore that ultimately our morality benefits us even as individuals, insofar as we are social individuals and live in a society. In the absence of belief, law takes over and morality has little role. If there was such a thing as an Icien morality, I had not yet perceived it, though traces of a moral past remained. But it still remained a possibility, as did the existence of an unspoken, unmanifest belief that might yet reveal itself and provide a basis for the reintegration of society. I was somewhat encouraged in this hope by the unexpected flight of old Nangoli, widow of Amuarkuar. When Nangoli returned and found her husband dead, she did an odd thing: she grieved. She tore down what was left of their home, uprooted the stockade, tore up whatever was growing in her little field. Then she fled with a few belongings. Some weeks later I heard that she and her children had gone over to the Sudan and built a village there. This migration was so unusual that I decided to see whether thie runaway village was different. Lojieri led the way, and Atum came along. One long day’s trek got us there. Lojieri pulled part of the brush fence aside, and we went in and wandered around. He and Atum looked inside all the huts, and Lokieri helped himself to tobacco from one and water from another. Surprises were coming thick and fast. That households should be left open and untended with such wealth inside. . . . That there should have been such