The Iks

The Iks by Lewis Thomas In the essay “The Iks”, author Lewis Thomas tells the story about the small tribe of hunters in Uganda who had to struggle to live with others after they were forced by the government to give up their living and working area and move to the poor hills and become farmers. Because of this, the Iks did not know how to live together, and they made each other’s lives very miserable. The individual Ik was selfish and heartless and cared for no one but himself.
They didn’t share things with each other and found joy in the other’s misfortunes. They even went as far as to let their children go on their own and take food from the elders. To make things worse, an anthropologist, who hated the Iks, decided to study them for two years to write a book about them. Thomas thought the behavior of the Iks was unmoral and animalistic. He then went on to say that he now sees their behavior as being similar to small groups such as a gang and large groups such as cities and nations.
I find that Thomas’ comparison of the Iks’ behavior to some small groups to be unreasonable, whereas I can see the similarities between their behavior and that of larger groups like cities and nations. I didn’t think the comparison of the Iks’ behavior and that of all small groups was accurate. Now, I have seen some small groups, such as gangs, express the same type of selfish and heartless behavior as Iks, like when they kill innocent people as an initiation and their joy when another gang is broken up.

But I have also seen some small groups, such as social clubs, come together to raise money for other organizations and to supply needs to needy communities. Therefore, I can’t see the comparison of all small groups as being fair. As for the comparison of the Iks and larger groups, such as cities, I can agree with that to a certain extent. I could never forget what happened in this city on August 29, 2005. Our families, homes, jobs and schools was taken from us. The city decided to save one part of the city, and flooded out the poor part.
Sure there was help from other cities and nations, but the help only went to certain areas of the city. The poor areas was left to fend for themselves, and that caused those citizens to make their own laws and they became very defensive and offensive to each other during this time. They broke into the neighbors’ homes and stole whatever was salvageable and they actually raped the women who was stranded with them. There was elderly people who was dead in there for days and no one knew because they was too busy trying to stay alive.
So I can agree with the comparison of the Iks and larger cities after being put in a bad situation. I wonder what it would be like if we was put in a situation like the Iks… again? Would we be able to get along in order to help each other out of the bind we’re in, or would we carry on like selfish, savage beasts and destroy the little that we have? Although I can understand Thomas’ point about all humans having the ability to act out like the Iks did, I think that we have come so far in our society that we would not want to act like that, because we know that behaving in such a manner will not help us make the situation better.

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