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Believe in Air Cargo

Tags: Air Cargo   Religion

Oliver Evans on Monday, February 25, 2013 3:00 PM


Imagine you are a native on a beautiful, remote and isolated island somewhere in the Southwest Pacific. One day, out of the blue, strange looking people of a race you have never seen before land on your shores. They go on to build very large and mysterious places, flat fields of grass or something that looks like stone, weird looking buildings, mystical masts.  And suddenly gigantic bees or birds or whatever they are fall humming from the skies and unload vast amounts of strange riches.

You do not know that to these strangers the year is 1942 and what they are bringing to your island are the means to sustain a war that is raging on in much of the rest of the world. You do not know, what a modern landing craft is, much less an airplane. And you do not know the concepts of “cargo” or “supplies” or “logistics”.

Think about it for a minute: what would your conclusion be? The famous science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke once noted that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” 

This clash of cultures did happen during World War II, and the tribal societies of the islanders arrived at the only logical conclusion to be drawn from what they knew about the world: this immense array of strange goods had to be a gift from the gods, delivered to the white or yellow people who had come to their shores because they performed certain religious rituals.

So, when the newcomers left (because the war was over) and the flow of goods from the gods (read: cargo) suddenly came to an end, the islanders founded a cargo cult of their own.

By building crude imitations of landing strips, aircraft made of straw and radio equipment made of bits of old wire, they tried to attract further deliveries from the gods. They even mimicked the behaviour they had observed of the military personnel operating the airfields.

Natives building airstrips in the middle of nowhere? Hoping for the gods to bestow some of their riches upon them? Isn´t that exactly what is happening today all over the Middle East and elsewhere? You bet it is.

 And you know what? It works.

Ask all those people walking the streets of Dubai or Istanbul with their new Swiss watches or smart phones. 

Thank you for tuning in.


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