Dialogue of Plato in Melanesian Wisdom

Bernard Mullu Narokobi was a Papua New Guinean politician, jurist and philosopher. He was also an intellectual writer who has since 1970s has written and published books, plays, poems and many articles touching different aspects (economic, politics, leadership, law, traditions ways of Melanesians, foreign influences and many more). Among his literary works is The Melanesian Wisdom which contains a collection of his essays which were written before Papua New Guinea was liberated from being under Australian rule in 1975. Essays were written touching a variety of topics and issues. I have chosen Politics because Politic portrayed in the seven branch of philosophy which was (Political Science) my essay will include How political science relate to Melanesian wisdom? And I will end the summary with an argument.

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I have picked The Political Science from the collection of seven branches of Philosophy. I found it that political science concerns with the social character of the human being and what they reflect on the basic issues and problem affecting the people and the surrounding nature. Or it dealt with state agencies system of government by analysing political thought, activity, and behaviour. We PNG, are Melanesian countries include PNG, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, West Papua and New Caledonia Melanesians are said to be peaceful, non-violent, friendly, person-to-person in which way conflicts are resolved or issues are settled. Melanesians have their unique way of maintaining peace in villages and communities. Author used Bougainville-Papua New Guinea conflict to illustrate how conflicts are resolved in Melanesian way. In a Papua New Guinean village when issues or conflicts arise village leaders like chiefs and elders will quickly intervene as mediators and bring both parties concerned together for reconciliation that why the dialogue of Plato is important.

Contradictory to good characteristics mentioned, Melanesians are believed to be also by nature quarrelsome, belligerent, aggressive and warlike. Papua New Guineans are thought to be warriors; back in pre-colonial period and even before that there was constant fighting between clans or tribes. Notably, up to present day we hear about or still experience tribal fights happening or going on in some parts of the country especially in the highlands region. This is so due to cultural diversity; PNG has more than 800 spoken languages and thousands of practiced cultures. Thus, when misunderstanding arises between meeting cultures conflict often erupts.

Moreover, one of the important facts about Papua New Guinea that was highlighted by the author was close human relations in Melanesian society; in a Melanesian village everyone is related to everyone else – you are either a brother, uncle, a grandfather, a son, a daughter, a mother, or a relative by marriage (Narokobi, 1980). This is a most essential element in PNG villages; we live in clans and in tribes. Additionally, such closeness of interconnectedness has developed a strong sense of family. People in a village feel as part of one big family who have roles and responsibilities to perform. One may feel he or she has the responsibility to step in and help where it is necessary. In addition, one of the unique qualities that Melanesians possess is giving and taking which is an integral part of Papua New Guinean society. Equally important in PNG society cooperation and mutual support for one and another especially in times of need and crisis is a living experience for Papua New Guineans. On the other end despite the opposition many have supported the idea of Melanesia way and haves agreed that there a Melanesian way. Bernard Narokobi (often referred to as modern Melanesian prophet) has defended his claim by counter arguing that Melanesian ways stem from the unquestionable fact that we Melanesians are ancient people born to liberty, we are born to ancient culture and civilisation. He further added that we are older than our written history by western anthropologists and ethnographers.

Too much foreign aid especially in monetary value could be harmful to PNG. Australian Government through its bilateral relationship with PNG has been providing aids ever since after World War Two. PNG economy is said to be dependent at formal sector. That means PNG economy depends largely on grants and aids from other countries especially from Australia. PNG has large amounts of fertile agricultural land, plentiful forestry and fishing resources, substantial mineral resources deposits (like gold, copper, nickel and others) and huge reserves of oil and gas (Narokobi, 1980). However, despite country’s natural resource endowments it continues to receive large amounts of foreign aid, consequently, PNG has failed to prosper in the last forty plus years of self-governance. We are not being self-reliant. In other words, PNG dependency on aids is long being prolonged. Consequently, it has made the PNG Government and its citizens become lazy and dependent, thus paints a bad picture of a sovereign state.

Politically Australian form of aid is often praised for being the best anywhere in the world. Huge sums of money are given to PNG for any number of years to use anyway they want. Because it’s used to be an untied aid, politicians and public servants spend it any way they like.

The money given to PNG has boomerang effects; Australian businesses that are well established here do well of this grants; means businessmen take money from the grants back to Australia. Which means Papua New Guineans don’t benefit directly from the aid other than from the spin off benefits from low wage employments. Papua New Guineans haven’t established or developed an economic base strong enough that can contain or hold the finance it receives from Australia.

Money has been used for many developments such as building new educational institutions plus new infrastructures like roads, bridges as well as supporting and enhancing human development and the other programs. This shows how Australian Government is interested in facilitating the building up of PNG as a developing state.

It is important that our political leaders as well as national leaders plus nationals who are employed by Australian Government to monitor and handle the grants aid must not compromise too much when it comes to decision making or they will not be free to make decisions in the best interest of the nationals. Instead, decisions they make will be in favour of foreigners which is what we don’t want.

To conclude, based on Melanesian virtues and ways identified and discussed, I am now convinced that there is a Melanesian way, hence, as a Melanesian I know and understand what is meant by the expression Melanesian Way. We Melanesians have our own way of doing things that are of course unique distinguished from any other cultural group in the world. Furthermore, I agreed with the author’s analysis on foreign aid. Yes, it is dangerous and does harm to PNG as stated above.

Reference

  1. Narokobi, B. (1980). The Melanesian Way: Total Cosmic Vision of Life. Port Moresby: Institute of Papua New Guinea.
  2. Powell, G. (1987). Through Melanesian Eyes. Melbourne, Australia: Macmillan.
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Dialogue of Plato in Melanesian Wisdom. (2021, Dec 29). Retrieved September 29, 2022 , from
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