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Lessons from 2004

Three Tips for Staying Safe in a Tsunami

Listen to your Elders

While thousands were swept to their deaths and entire communities destroyed in the tsunami of December 26, 2004, the five indigenous tribes on Andaman and Nicobar islands in the Indian archipelago were fine. Why? They listened to their elders. For generations, going back as far as 70,000 years, these people have learned to listen to nature as intimately as listening to a lover. The children learn from the elders how to develop this "ear." The people knew the tsunami was coming so everyone went to high ground.

Unlike a Canadian couple who stood on a resort beach snapping photos of the 2004 tsunami. Here is a photo of that tsunami, later downloaded from the seawater-soaked chip of their camera found with their corpses. I am deeply saddened and angered at a society that teaches people that nature is an object to be consumed. The consumer value system, in my opinion, murdered this couple.

Don't Develop / Destroy your Coastline

Live at least 10 km inland. That is the rule of thumb of these wise people, the Great Andamanese, Onges, Jarawas, Sentinelese and Shompens. Unlike their neighbors, they did not cut down the trees growing on the coastline. Their Western-style neighbors clear – cut in order to build luxury hotels and make expanses of sandy beaches for frolicking tourists. The trees are what hold it all together. Those photo-op sandy beaches on other islands turned into tourist cemeteries. Living in harmony with nature is more important, to these indigenous people, than being part of a "modern" tourist consumer economy.

Help Each Other

Rather than dreaming of living secluded in your own Malibu beach house, clinging to a cliff and with a security guard at the gate, form community. Get to know your neighbors. Help each other out. Mutual aid is scientifically proven to be the way for survival of the species. These true survivors, the Great Andamanese, Onges, Jarawas, Sentinelese and Shompens, live in egalitarian hunter/gatherer societies. They lived while thousands died. Listen to indigenous wisdom and try to incorporate it into your life bit by bit.

About Lynette Yetter

Lynette Yetter is the author of the books "72 Money Saving Tips for the 99%" and "Lucy Plays Panpipes for Peace, a novel." Lynette is a permanent resident of Bolivia and a graduate student in the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Program at Reed College.

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