“Many of us Lowdowners read William Golding’s Lord of the Flies in high school–and it’s still being taught.” The 1954 novel depicts the gradual descent into barbaric darkness by a group of English schoolboys shipwrecked on a small deserted island. “Its portrayal of innate human depravity was hailed at the time for its unblinking ‘realism’. ” Only …it was total bullshit, reports Hightower.* I won’t include many of Golding’s shortcomings as reported in the article, but suffice it to say he had not studied behavioral science, and in order to better understand the boys’ fantasized situation Dutch historian Rutger Bregman became curious about what would really happen if kids were left alone on an island.
He finally discovered a real situation that occurred in 1965, when six bored schoolboys ages 13-16 from Tonga took a small fishing boat out on a lark, but were caught in a sudden storm and blown far from home. Their mast and rudder broke, and they finally washed up on the shore of a desolate rocky island where they were stranded for more than a year. After 15 months stranded on the deserted island a passing fishing crew rescued them.
Fifty years later Bregman located a few of the 1965 survivors, curious to discover “how it went in real life.” Their rescuers found the boys healthy–physically, socially and spiritually. I don’t want to be a “spoiler,” and maybe you knew all this already anyway. I’m going to check out Bregnan’s 2019 work: Humankind: A Hopeful History.
*Nov. 2020 Hightower Lowdown