ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Copycat Cult

Updated on November 2, 2014
A Bamboo Airplane w/Cultists In The Background
A Bamboo Airplane w/Cultists In The Background

Cargo Cults Of The South Pacific

Imagine that you are an indigenous native inhabiting one of the many islands in the South Pacific during the early nineteen hundreds or even up through World War Two. Perhaps it is New Guinea or one of the many islands of Micronesia or Melanesia; a remote place, completely isolated from the rest of the world. You stand there with your fellow villagers as the village elder, shaman or sorcerer recounts a vision he had from reading his spirit possessed stones or maybe from a dream. It is a vision prophesying that the ancestral spirits are coming back to aid the living by pouring riches down from the sky. Shortly thereafter, the prophecy begins to reveal itself as true! Loud rumblings are heard crossing the heavens and crates drift down slowly to the ground! Then, in a tragic example of inequity, pasty faced green clad men swoop in from the sea and steal all of the precious riches that the ancestral gods have sent!

This is the simplistic confusion that created what has become commonly known as “cargo cults.” The first documented report, written by anthropologist F.E. Williams in 1919, detailed what was dubbed 'The Vailala Madness,' which occurred in the Territory of Papua, New Guinea. The indigenous people began to display psychosomatic symptoms, uncontrollable shaking and glossolalia, or speaking in tongues. It seems that the 'madness' is most easily explained as culture shock on a grand scale. The incorporation of Christian doctrines, which had been introduced to the villagers in the 1890's, as well as the desire to explain the appearance of all these 'strangers' needed to be reconciled to fit within the limited, yet long held beliefs, of the villagers.

During WWII, many tiny islands within the South Pacific region succumbed to these 'cargo cults,' after the Japanese, and then the Americans, commandeered the islands for strategic purposes. These natives witnessed a world of riches being unloaded from ships or dropped from planes, not understanding how supplies were actually manufactured, they believed that these interlopers were stealing the treasures that the gods had intended for them. Perhaps thinking that the interlopers had a better way to communicate with the gods, almost all of the cargo cults displayed the same erratic mimicry of the 'white man' to try to regain the gods' favor. The natives made replicas of landing strips, replete with torches as landing lights. They made radio towers out of bamboo and radio headsets out of hollowed out coconuts and string. They even made reproductions of airplanes out of bamboo and straw. They painted their bodies to mimic the soldier's uniforms and had sticks for rifles, complete with a sharpened red tip to represent a bayonets, and they held drills, marching back and forth in parade formation. All to no avail.

While we may view these natives as naïve and rather unenlightened, there are examples of the 'cargo cult' mentality within our own 'sophisticated' and modern world. Some of the UFO cults, such as the Heaven's Gate cult, dress in the manner that they believe an extraterrestrial would, so as to gain acceptance by the aliens. In the marketplace, when a product is introduced that is successful, a myriad of other look alike 'knock off' products flood the market. Even sociologically, we hold some of the beliefs that drive the cargo cults. You don't have to believe that last statement. Just put on your Versini suit, slip on your black Belvedere shoes and don't forget your red power tie. The gods will finally notice you and bless you with riches once you dress for success.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • JTRyder profile imageAUTHOR

      John Thomas Niswonger 

      3 years ago from Dayton, Ohio

      Thank you C.V.! I'm trying to find the time to explore other writer's works...slowly, ever so slowly. I'll check out your articles here soon!

    • C.V.Rajan profile image

      Disillusioned 

      3 years ago from Kerala, India

      Hey! You are an interesting writer! Hope to visit your page again and read more of your stuff.

    • JTRyder profile imageAUTHOR

      John Thomas Niswonger 

      3 years ago from Dayton, Ohio

      Right! It reminds me of the movie "The Gods Must Be Crazy". One innocent act sets off a chain of events...

    • Dale Hyde profile image

      Dale Hyde 

      3 years ago from Tropical Paradise on Planet X

      Wow! Amazing information. One can envision the turmoil created on these islands with those native to the islands during those times! I had absolutely no knowledge of this and the degree that they went to duplicate what they were seeing in a primitive manner. One simply does not stop to think about how actions can impact whole cultures.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)