I did not write it [Coming of Age in Samoa] as a popular book, but only with the hope that it would be intelligible to those who might make the best use of its theme, that adolescence need not be the time of stress and strain which Western society made it; that growing up could be freer and easier and less complicated; and also that there were prices to pay for the very lack of complication I found in Samoa - less intensity, less individuality, less involvement with life.
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Sisters, while they are growing up, tend to be very rivalrous and as young mothers they are given to continual rivalrous comparisons of their several children. But once the children grow older, sisters draw closer together and often, in old age, they become each other's chosen and most happy companions. In addition to their shared memories of childhood and of their relationship to each other's children, they share memories of the same home, the same homemaking style, and the same small prejudices about housekeeping that carry the echoes of their mother's voice ...
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In every human society of which we have any record, there are those who teach and those who learn, for learning a way of life is implicit in all human culture as we know it. But the separation of the teacher's role from the role of all adults who inducted the young into the habitual behavior of the group, was a comparatively late invention. Furthermore, when we do find explicit and defined teaching, in primitive societies we find it tied in with a sense of the rareness or the precariousness of some human tradition.
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laughter, that distinctively human emotion, laughter which springs from trust in the other, from willingness to put oneself momentarily in the other's place, even at one's own expense, is the special emotional basis of democratic procedures, just as pride is the emotion of an aristocracy, shame of a crowd that rules, and fear of a police state.
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The city as a center where, any day in any year, there may be a fresh encounter with a new talent, a keen mind or a gifted specialist-this is essential to the life of a country. To play this role in our lives a city must have a soul-a university, a great art or music school, a cathedral or a great mosque or temple, a great laboratory or scientific center, as well as the libraries and museums and galleries that bring past and present together. A city must be a place where groups of women and men are seeking and developing the highest things they know.
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If they learn easily, they are penalized for being bored when they have nothing to do; if they excel in some outstanding way, they are penalized as being conspicuously better than the peer group. The culture tries to make the child with a gift into a one-sided person, to penalize him at every turn, to cause him trouble in making friends and to create conditions conducive to the development of a neurosis. Neither teachers, the parents of other children, nor the child peers will tolerate a Wunderkind.
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The capacity for friendship usually goes with highly developed civilizations. The ability to cultivate people differs by culture and class; but on the whole, educated people have more ways to make friends... . In England, for instance, you find everyone in your class has read the same books. Here, people grope for something in common-like a newly engaged girl who came to me and said, "It's absolutely wonderful! His uncle and my cousin were on the same football team.
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In contrast to our own social environment which brings out different aspects of human nature and often demonstrated that behavior which occurs almost invariably in individuals within our society is nevertheless due not to original nature but to social environment; and a homogeneous and simple development of the individual may be studied.
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Much of the ill-tempered railing against women that has characterized the popular writing of the last two years is a half-heartedattempt to find a way back to a more balanced relationship between our biological selves and the world we have built. So women are scolded both for being mothers and for not being mothers, for wanting to eat their cake and have it too, and for not wanting to eat their cake and have it too.
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I think the important thing about sisters is that they share the same minute, familiar life-style, the same little sets of rules. Therefore they can keep house with each other late in life, because they share the same bunch of housewifely prejudices. The important thing about women today is, as they get older, they still keep house. It's one reason they don't die, but men die when they retire. Women just polish the teacups.
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Wonder is very important, because if we never wondered, we would never get to the point of asking questions. Yet wonder may lead people to write poetry or to paint pictures or to pray, as well as to ask the kinds of questions about the world and themselves that can be answered by science.
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I used to say to my classes that the ways to get insight are: to study infants; to study animals; to study primitive people; to be psychoanalyzed; to have a religious conversion and get over it; to have a psychotic episode and get over it; or to have a love affair with an old Russian. And I stopped saying that when a little dancer in the front row put up her hand and said, 'Does he have to be old?
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The young, free to act on their initiative, can lead their elders in the direction of the unknown... The children, the young, must ask the questions that we would never think to ask, but enough trust must be re-established so that the elders will be permitted to work with them on the answers.
Coming to terms with the rhythms of women's lives means coming to terms with life itself, accepting the imperatives of the body rather than the imperatives of an artificial, man-made, perhaps transcendentally beautiful civilization. Emphasis on the male work-rhythm is an emphasis on infinite possibilities; emphasis on the female rhythms is an emphasis on a defined pattern, on limitation.
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Chief among our gains must be reckoned this possibility of choice, the recognition of many possible ways of life, where other civilizations give a satisfactory outlet to only one temperamental type, be he mystic or soldier, businessman or artist, a civilization in which there are many standards offers a possibility of satisfactory adjustment to individuals of many different temperamental types, of diverse gifts, and varying interests.
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EARTH DAY uses one of humanity's great discoveries, the discovery of anniversaries by which, throughout time, human beings have kept their sorrows and their joys, their victories, their revelations and their obligations alive, for re-celebration and re-dedication another year, another decade, another century, another eon.
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For Immanuel Kant, the term anthropology embraced all the human sciences, and laid the foundation of familiar knowledge we need, to build solidly grounded ideas about the moral and political demands of human life. Margaret Mead saw mid-twentieth-century anthropology as engaged in a project no less ambitious than Kant's own, and her Terry Lectures on Continuities in Cultural Evolution provide an excellent point to enter into her reflections.
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The protection of a ten-year-old girl from her father's advances is a necessary condition of social order, but the protection of the father from temptation is a necessary condition of his continued social adjustment. The protections that are built up in the child against desire for the parent become the essential counterpart to the attitudes in the parent that protect the child.
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Many people are shrinking from the future and from participation in the movement toward a new, expanded reality. And, like homesick travelers abroad, they are focusing their anxieties on home. The reasons are not far to seek. We are at a turning point in human history. . . . We could turn our attention to the problems that going to the Moon certainly will not solve ... But I think this would be fatal to our future. . . . A society that no longer moves forward does not merely stagnate; it begins to die.
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When human beings have been fascinated by the contemplation of their own hearts, the more intricate biological pattern of the female has become a model for the artist, the mystic, and the saint. When mankind turns instead to what can be done, altered, built, invented, in the outer world, all natural properties of men, animals, or metals become handicaps to be altered rather than clues to be followed.
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American society is very like a fish society. . . . Among certain species of fish, the only thing which determines order of dominance is length of time in the fishbowl. The oldest resident picks on the newest resident, and if the newest resident is removed to a new bowl, he, as oldest resident, will pick on the newcomers.
Human beings do not carry civilization in their genes. All that we do carry in our genes are certain capacities- the capacity to learn to walk upright, to use our brains, to speak, to relate to our fellow men, to construct and use tools, to explore the universe, and to express that exploration in religion, in art, in science, in philosophy.
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Our treatment of both older people and children reflects the value we place on independence and autonomy. We do our best to make our children independent from birth. We leave them all alone in rooms with the lights out and tell them, Go to sleep by yourselves. And the old people we respect most are the ones who will fight for their independence, who would sooner starve to death than ask for help.
No skill, no special apti tude, no vividness of imagination or precision of thinking would go unrecognized because the child who possessed it was of one sex rather than the other. No child would be relentlessly shaped to one pattern of behavior, but instead there should be many patterns, in a world that had learned to allow to each individual the pattern which was most congenial to his gifts.
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Female animals defending their young are notoriously ferocious and lack the playful delight in combat which characterizes the mock combats of males of the same species. There seems very little ground for claiming that the mother of young children is more peaceful, more responsible, and more thoughtful for the welfare of the human race than is her husband or brother.
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Women should be permitted to volunteer for non-combat service, [...] We have no real way of knowing whether the kinds of training that teach men both courage and restraint would be adaptable to women or effective in a crisis. But the evidence of history and comparative studies of other species suggest that women as a fighting body might be far less amenable to the rules that prevent war from becoming a massacre and, with the use of modern weapons, that protect the survival of all humanity. That is what I meant by saying that women in combat might be too fierce.
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Anthropology... has always been highly dependent upon photography... As the use of still photography - and moving pictures - has become increasingly essential as a part of anthropological methods, the need for photographers with a disciplined knowledge of anthropology and for anthropologists with training in photography has increased. We expect that in the near future sophisticated training in photography will be a requirement for all anthropologists. (1962)
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The suffering of either sex - of the male who is unable, because of the way in which he was reared, to take the strong initiating or patriarchal role that is still demanded of him, or of the female who has been given too much freedom of movement as a child to stay placidly within the house as an adult - this suffering, this discrepancy, this sense of failure in an enjoined role, is the point of leverage for social change.
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Earth Day is the first holy day which transcends all national borders, yet preserves all geographical integrities, spans mountains and oceans and time belts, and yet brings people all over the world into one resonating accord, is devoted to the preservation of the harmony in nature and yet draws upon the triumphs of technology, the measurement of time, and instantaneous communication through space.
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