Cargo Cults

Cargo Cults

London : Canada | Nov 22, 2012 at 8:13 AM PST
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During World War II, tribes in remote parts of the pacific formed entire religions praising American Troops and hailing them as "their dead ancestors, returning from the grave to bring gifts and foods from the heavens". It sounds bizarre, but when we understand how Cargo Cults came into existence, it raises an important question. Has this happened before?

The term "Cargo Cult" was given to a social phenomenon that occurred during World War II when American troops established bases on Tanna Island (Vanuatu/New Hebrides). Tanna Island, is the best example to use to explain Cargo Cults, but it is in no means the only case (Papa, New Guinea). When American ships began to appear on the horizon, the native inhabitants of Tanna Island gathered in wonder, and watched on in awe when"metal birds" descended from the sky. Inside of the metal birds were strange pale white skinned men; even more fascinating is there were some black men too! Within days airstrips, towers, planes and boats were introduced to a population who had never even seen a white man, let alone the scientific and technological achievements mankind had created.

The importance of the emergence of Cargo Cults is extremely significant as it clearly tells us how easy it is for human beings (Who do not understand the basic fundamentals of modern technology and sciences) to develop entire religions based on interactions with 'divine beings'.

Many religions across the globe tell of divine beings as gods, celestial beings and angels who defended from the heavens. Knowing that the gods of Cargo Cults are flesh and blood Americans, is it possible that the divine beings described in ancient texts across the world were actually extra terrestrial beings; obtaining their divine qualities through their greatly misunderstood technological advancements?

How would our forefathers have reacted if hundreds, or even thousands of years ago extra terrestrial beings descended from the 'heavens'(Space) and actively interacted with humanity? I think that based on the emergence of "Cargo Cults" that occurred in World Ward II we would misinterpret their advanced technology labelling it as magic, or more fittingly divine. We would praise their name by establishing religions, building temples, and most importantly, we would write down our encounters in texts. So could it be that when we read mankind's religious texts around the world, that the authors are in fact witnessing extraordinary events, and are trying to describe it to the best of their ability and understanding?

The American troops befriended the natives, providing them with food, clothing, radio, matches and other types of valuable cargo, all of which the remote people of Tanna Island had never encountered before. The natives quickly drew their own conclusions about the Americans presence, that the American troops were in fact spirits of their dead ancestors who were bringing them gifts from the heavens! The Americans were also, due to their technology considered divine beings by the natives (Because they didn't understand electricity, flight, radio and engineering!). A new religion was created, inadvertently by American troops amid the chaos of World War II, its name "John Frum" and it's holiday is still to this day celebrated annually on the 15th of February. The celebrations typically have a mock march, with (bamboo) guns, and "USA" painted on their chest with rank symbols on their shoulders.

One day this all changed. The war was over, and the American troops abandoned their bases and went home, literally over night (And with them, the cargo). This was devastating to the natives. They had grown accustomed to this new way of life, and were desperate to continue to receive cargo from "their dead forefathers". The natives had closely observed the movements o the American troops and decided that the best way to get their attention was to construct mock airstrips with signal towers made of bamboo that were equipped with bamboo radios. Planes were created out of bamboo and on some occasion burned in efforts to signal the return of the American Troops. Lets think recap... We have a modern day tribe who formed an entire religion around American Troops (Physical, non-divine human beings) in WWII, of which is still an active religion to this day. And look at the efforts these people went through in order to try to re-establish contact with these 'divine beings' by constructing runways, radio towers and planes based on what they witness in the troops coming and going in the war. If this happened in the past to our ancestors, wouldn't they have done the same? The answer is simple, absolutely! Just look at all the ancient megalithic structures in the world; many of which today we would be find it extremely difficult, if not impossible to replicate with our modern day technology.

Now there's something to think about...

diggingwithflint is based in London, Ontario, Canada, and is a Stringer on Allvoices.
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