I found myself in a bit of a thoughtful pickle. I had caught myself scoffing at barbarians (or at least modern-day people at our societies margins). The people that largely operate with no knowledge of civic knowledge or cultural elements that a “citizen” would understand. In the long run, after much pondering, I noticed I had erred.
The barbarian may not know my ways or eschew the ways of a sophisticated modern existence but it does not mean that they aren’t smart. As reflected by many writers before me; these barbarians are generally more robust to natural elements and ecological challenges. They adapt instead of hiding behind technology or the fallacy of that someone else will always “do something about it before it gets bad”. (Never mind the blind faith idea that you pay taxes for this kind of thing). The barbarian knows the fallacy of handing a stranger resources and expecting something in return.
The barbarian is not stupid for not trusting a stranger. A stranger offering food, shelter, or some other oddity can easily be someone wanting to kill people in their group. Nothing comes for free. The outsider without a common knowledge of their customs (or even someone roundly rejecting these customs) serves little to no purpose. The outsider can easily waste their time and even possibly “steal” tribe members. The barbarian may even lose time that was better served preparing for rough times or taking care of the inventory of resources. In this, the barbarian is no fool.
The barbarian may appear unwashed and uncouth but the living roll on despite being carriers of debilitating diseases. The hearty and headstrong benefit from a wide array of guttural bacteria that are largely not seen in the civilized world. The vast majority of barbarians are capable of eating a collection of sterile and non-sterile foods that might give problems to those accustomed to modern food storage/processing. They don’t have the rumble or overall sickness that many of us modern world people do. The survivors move on. They feed themselves. They either multiply or cease.
In our society, we easily could mark someone that doesn’t have consumer electronics as a troglodyte. It is unthinkable to think that someone wouldn’t use a GPS or a Rand McNally map to navigate with. We ask ourselves how someone can live without a sound machine to aid their sleep. A barbarian is smart enough to look at a hill and notice if it is different than another. The same barbarian survives when they can hear the sounds of nature and the environment. One needs to hear the growl of a tiger and the howl of the wind. A television makes no sense when the people of your tribe should tell their history. It makes more sense to give them warning about unallied tribes instead of bombarding them with images of weird, unknown tribes. Technology should not be a crutch.
I honestly look at what we have seen as barbarism and I worry that we don’t remember how to be resilient. We may grow soft in our ways and we may regret that we don’t remember our days as the barbarians.