Threats are everywhere. Every community in the world faces some sort of threats from time to time. These threats can be large or small, can come from inside or outside of the colony, and can have devastating effects on the group as a whole or as individuals. Quite often, parallels can be drawn between societies that have nothing to everything in common. This is found when comparing two dramatically different groups in the Sambia and the Hutterites.
When first comparing the Hutterites and Sambia, one notices the glaring differences. The Sambia are a tribe living in the jungles of New Guinea. The Hutterites are a group that lives communally on large farm areas. The Sambia live what looks to most an uncivilized and savage way of life. The Hutterites live in established communities with many modern conveniences.
The Sambia is a black tribe, while Hutterites are white. After these obvious differences, it is hard to imagine that there would be anything in common between the two groups. Looking deeper into the groups, it is easy to find several instances where they have very similar societal threats. Both the Sambia and Hutterite groups face threats from inside their communities. These internal threats can be very minor to something that might tear the group apart. One example of an internal threat comes from the sex differences that exist in each group.
Both the Sambia and Hutterites have specific male and female gender roles. The Sambia men are the warriors, leaders and hunters. The women cook, raise children and gather certain crops. In the Hutterite community, the men are farmers, both group and spiritual leaders, and top of the hierarchical ladder. The women have the household duties of cleaning, cooking, child rearing and clothes making. There is no deviation from these distinct gender roles.
In both societies, women are seen as being beneath the men and having to follow the orders of men. In both of these groups, the women marry in from an outside group. The women come into the home of the husband, with all of his family and friends surrounding them. She does not know anyone there, and must start anew. This and the distinct gender roles lead to male and female subcultures.
The Sambia women do not understand the men's rituals, make fun of them and do not share in the joy they receive from the process. Hutterite women do not really fit in for a period of time after marriage. They tend to be antagonistic toward the male gender roles. Although both groups have defined gender roles and male dominance, they manage to survive. Both sexes know that although they might not like or want to participate in their specific gender duties they must. Each group could not function if only one gender did their jobs.
In order for the groups to propagate and perpetuate on they all must do their parts. Another example of an internal threat is that of defection. Both the Sambia and the Hutterites are faced with the possibility that members will want to leave the group for the outside world. Now that the Sambia are making more contact with outsiders, younger men are apt to leave the group for school or live in the city. Once out of the group, these men start to question the necessity of the initiation rites and could be much less likely to return for further ceremonies. The group realizes that if the young man does not return they will lose a potential warrior.
The threat is equally as important in the Hutterite community. There is always the possibility that after the 'foolish years'; young adults will choose to leave the community. Once exposed to what the rest of the world has to offer, returning to such a stringent way of life is very difficult. A Hutterite community needs all of its members, as each person plays a valuable part in its continued success.
If too many members leave the colony the threat of the demise of the colony exists. These groups respond to the potential defectors / defectors in the same general manor. The Sambia men do not initiate defectors by force, dragging them into the ceremonies like they do small boys. The defectors are exposed to much peer pressure, persuasive speakers and elders who try to convince them of the necessity of initiation. They are then allowed to chose for themselves.
If they chose to leave, they are allowed to do so. This is the same with the Hutterites, as they will let you leave if you want. This group does not actively pursue the defectors, as they feel that once the outside world is experienced the defector will realize that they are not properly equipped to handle the freedom. In short, their reaction is non-action.
They believe that through strong socialization the defector will return to their home. This manor of allowing members to leave if necessary and then return when ready keeps others from fleeing. If there were constant threats by leaders against leaving, more would be curious of what is out there. By allowing this movement, the groups are keeping themselves strong and together. Threats from outside of the community can also cause many problems for Sambia and Hutterite communities.
War is a threat that comes from outside of the group. Both the Sambia and the Hutterites face this external threat, but have extremely different methods of reacting. Sambia men have one basic goal: be a warrior. The entire initiation process evolved due to the need of a way for preparing warriors. Although there has been no real war for approximately thirty years, new warriors must constantly be created.
There is always the looming threat of attack from rival tribes. The Sambia thrive on the idea of war and is what keeps the group together. Having no war threat would be like a farmer having no land to farm - there would be no reason to live. The threat of war is much different for the Hutterite people. There is not a constant threat of a neighboring community coming over and raiding. The Hutterites are pacifists and do not believe in war.
The goal of the Hutterite people is to be pure and by killing, there is no possible way to ever attain this goal. The problem for the Hutterites is in trying to stay out of war efforts. An agreement was made after several men were jailed for refusing to fight in war that allows Hutterite men to serve in non-combat areas. Men serve in positions like farmers and mechanics. This allows the men to still serve the country when asked, but retain their pure status. There is another external threat that is not often discussed.
This is the threat of available lands for farming, hunting and gathering. The Sambia and Hutterites both count on their lands to survive. Due to progress and the expansion that follows, the Sambia have to deal with others encroaching on their lands. It is possible that some day this will turn into a situation like that of the Native Americans in regards to land holdings. Many people look to their land as being wasted, since it is not being developed. This has just recently started to make news, and is an unfortunate situation.
Sambia peoples were handling the problem themselves, but now need outside help. Hutterite people aren't necessarily having their land taken away from them, but are facing land problems. There have been laws passed concerning property ownership, aimed specifically at Hutterite communities. There is a fear of the unknown, and the possibility that the group will take over entire towns and then states. These laws prevent any one person or group from owning a certain amount of land in one area. This forces groups to lease lands from other farmers and not be able to own it outright.
It appears as though the Samba is handling the problem in the same manor as the Hutterite peoples. They both have lawyers and are battling inside the courts, not on the lands they are trying to keep. All groups and communities face threats of all sizes and shapes. These threats can range from short term to long term, minor to deadly. What is most important is how the group reacts to the threat.
Does it create new problems for itself through the reaction, or is the reaction the end to the problem? Even groups that seem to have nothing in common whatsoever, other than the fact that both are made up of human beings, face some similar threats..