Book: The World Until Yesterday


Jared Diamond’s books always go into extensive details with many illustrative accounts to support his ideas, and The World Until Yesterday follows this, which makes it fascinating, convincing… and long, so beware (the audiobook will enhance your walk, drive, or dish-doing for 18 hours). But this thorough book hones in on specific aspects of our culture today, identifying the differences between state societies and traditional societies.  This isn’t a book about retreating back to older ways, but about what lessons from those times we can incorporate into today’s world, where we have modern medicine, global interconnectedness, and perhaps less violence.

Lessons for Yogis:

1) We can learn from the sense of community shared by small tribes.  Are we a good member of our yoga community?  What about off the mat? How can we better care for the children and elders around us?

2) A big advantage we have is that we are accustomed to seeing strangers all the time, which was a big threat in traditional societies.  How can we strengthen this further through lovingkindness practice and through cultivating non-judgement?

3) Again, hello, we can be mindful of how our bodies were built for times of famine, how much we moved around, and how much ‘leisure’ time we had.  We are rid of a lot of the dangers of traditional societies, but we need to treat our bodies with respect or we are going to continue to suffer from the new, avoidable dangers of our own creation.

Guns, Germs, and Steel was an assigned book in a college class I usually fell asleep in, but within a few years the comparisons between traditional societies and today’s has become the most fascinating topic in the world to me.  Jared Diamond’s face was on the wall in the cafeteria at the Nat Geo headquarters, and I had imagined him to be one of those pretentious, over-bearing know-it-alls.  But I checked out the 3 part documentary Guns, Germs, and Steel on Netflix, to see what I’d missed out on in that long-ago sociology class.  And he was the most approachable and ADORABLE person I had ever seen!!!  Great documentary with nice recreations (Re-Cre’s as they call it in the business…) Despite them mentioning the words “guns, germs, and steel” every other sentence.  Anyway I have been a fan ever since, and when I saw him on the Colbert Report promoting THIS book  I immediately got it on audiobooks.  As of now I’ve just finished Part 1 of the 3 audio files.  But when I’m done I’d be happy to lend it to you on my sweet, sweet, ancient ipod nano. ~Jordan