1. Who are the Takers and Leavers?
2. Compare your above answer about the takers and leavers to modern issues
of class (wealth and poverty); what is the relationship?
3. What is meant by the term Mother Culture? How does it operate?
4. Who is Ishmael? What is he trying to teach and why?
You should integrate some of the things you have learned in cultural geography,
particularly –
5. Discuss the development of cultural hearths (like Mesopotamia) in the
context of the following question – What did man have to do to begin
mastering his world (P. 68) and how was this the beginning of our culture?
6. Does the theory of Possibilism suggest that nature supported the
development of a taker society?
7. How is our cultural landscape in Southeast Michigan reflective of a taker
society? Describe what you see, hear, or otherwise experience that assumes
man’s destiny is to conquer nature. (P. 73)
8. On Page 108 Quinn mentions Thomas Malthus as one person predicting a
future doom. What was the Malthusian Theory and why is it important
9. Does Ishmael suggest that man uses religion to provide guidance or
knowledge about how we should live? If so, give an example from the
teachings of a major religion. Do these teachings support man’s conquering
of nature?
10. Consider concepts of modern political geography (nations, states, etc). How
differently would takers and leavers value states and state politics? Why?
11. What are the three specific things identified that Takers do that are contrary
to the laws of competition and never done in the natural community? Give a
modern real-world practical example of each. Longer answers
Is Ishmael suggesting we should go back to being hunter-gatherers? Short of
this, and considering that American consumer culture promotes a taker value
system more aggressively than other cultures, what could someone like you do
to shift from taker to leaver? (please don’t say “recycle” or “drive less” as these
are elementary! Ponder it for a while.) Would we have to give up advances of
modern civilization like architecture, medicine, literature, farming, cable TV,
Twinkies? Can you envision a future that combines the best of our modern
knowledge and observance of leaver principles? What would it look like? (up to
two pages)
Pick out a portion of the text in Ishmael that was meaningful to you and expand
on it. Relate these ideas to various types of societies — hunter-gatherers, agrarian
societies, industrial societies, or post-industrial societies. But don’t rely on long,
extensive quotes as the essence of the paper. Tell me what you’ve learned from
reading the book. (Up to two pages)
PART II : View the following 27 minute amateur film at the website below. If
the link doesn’t work, go to ifilm.com and do a title search.
Video: The Great Lie

Q. How does this film exemplify the messages in Ishmael? (one page)
PART III : Visit the website below and “surf” it for a bit., find something that
interests you; what it is and how it is useful to you? (one to two paragraphs)
The Ishmael Community
http://www.ishmael.com/welcome.cfmPART IV : Read the following parable.
*The irony of the rat race explained *
A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village. An American tourist complimented the
Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch
them. “Not very long,” answered the Mexican. “But then, why didn’t you stay out longer
and catch more?” asked the American. The Mexican explained that his small catch was
sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family. The American asked, “But what do
you do with the rest of your time?” “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and
take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, have a
few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs…I have a full life.”
The American interrupted, “I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you! You
should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With
the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat. With the extra money the larger boat will
bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet
of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can negotiate directly with
the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little
village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City! From there you
can direct your huge enterprise.”
“How long would that take?” asked the Mexican. “Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years,”
replied the American. “And after that?” “Afterwards? That’s when it gets really
interesting,” answered the American, laughing. “When your business gets really big, you
can start selling stocks and make millions!” “Millions? Really? And after that?” “After
that you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your
children, catch a few fish, take a siesta, and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying
your friends.
Commentary –
This is the difference in mentality that leads to either a sustainable life or a life of
“maximum harm” as Daniel Quinn calls it. The Mexican has simply chosen another story
for his life to be in. “When he speaks of “another story to be in” people seem to imagine
he’s touting a sort of miserable half-life of voluntary poverty, donning sackcloth and
ashes to do penance for our environmental sins. They’re sure that living in a sustainable
way must be about “giving up” things. It doesn’t occur to them that living in an
unsustainable way is also about giving up things, very precious things like health,
security, hope, light-heartedness, and freedom from anxiety, fear, and guilt.
Q. How does it relate to Ishmael? (one page)

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