Elizabeth Marshall Thomas Quotes
“I saw that animals were important. I saw that plants were even more important. I was also to learn that compared to many of the other species, we weren't important at all except for the damage we do. We do not rule the natural world, despite our conspicuous position in it. On the contrary, it is our lifeline, and we do well to try to understand its rules.”
“We learned two reasons for the submissiveness of Bushmen. One reason is that it is not in their nature to fight, not in their experience to deal with people other than themselves. They would much rather run, hide, and wait until a menace has passed than defend themselves forcefully, quite unlike the Bantus, who in the past have waged great wars. But Bushmen misunderstand confrontational bravery. The heroes of their legends are little jackals who trick, lie, and narrowly escape, rather than larger, bolder animals such as lions (who in the Kalahari are something of a master race). In the Bushmen’s stories, lions are always being scalded, singed, duped, cuckolded, or killed.”
“Then, too, the Ju/wa men had an inherent, almost natural bravery that everyone took entirely for granted. They hunted the world’s most dangerous game with quarter-ounce arrows, they stood off lions and dealt with strangers, all without a shred of the bravado or machismo that so characterizes the men of other societies, including ours. The Ju/wa men simply did what men do without making anything of it, and didn't even think of themselves as brave.”
“So the distinction between people was caused by the great god, and the Bushmen, who want only to be left in peace, do not compete in issues which they cannot win. They are only frightened by other peoples and hope to be spared their attention. Kung Bushmen call all strangers zhu dole, which means “stranger” but, literally, “dangerous person”; they call all non-Bushmen zo si, which means “animals without hooves,” because, they say, non-Bushmen are angry and dangerous like lions and hyenas. But Kung Bushmen call themselves zhu twa si, the harmless people. Twa means “just” or “only,” in the sense that you say: “It was just the wind” or “It is only me.”
Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
- Date of birth: January 01, 1931
- Born: in The United States.
- Description: Elizabeth Marshall Thomas is the author of The Harmless People, a non fiction work about the Kung Bushmen of southwestern Africa, and of Reindeer Moon, a novel about the paleolithic hunter gatherers of Siberia, both of which were tremendous international successes. She lives in New Hampshire.