LOGISTICS' PECULIARITIES. Cargo Cult

 

Jana Gulbas

Nature has put us, Earthlings, on different floors of the house of our huge planet. Some people, living on one part of the equator get up 12 hours earlier and don’t rush anywhere, some others want a day of 25 hours, while some others yet can’t get enough of all the time in the world. Yet we, the seven billion and almost seven hundred millions of inhabitants of the Earth, carry the cargo of our lives every day. Some are trying to lift up too much, some others could do even more, while others yet have turned a cargo into a peculiar cult.

John Frum comes and everything will be OK

The cargo cult emerged during the World War II in the islands of Melanesia. When about 300 American soldiers were disembarked in the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu), the locals were astonished by their lifestyle, fortune and power. They sincerely admired the ships bringing humanitarian cargo to the military bases in the Pacific Ocean. Not to mention the huge shiny birds, delivering cargo to the ground by parachutes. From their perspective it seemed that the white people live singing in waterproof tents and sometimes marching in the square, being only rewarded by the Gods, delivering them food, clothes and other luxuries of civilisation. Having no clue of the number of “floors” between them and contemporary civilisation, the locals decided that the truth is in some mysterious rituals, performed by these alien soldiers. Therefore, when the Americans had left the island, the locals started raising flags and marching armed with bamboo weapons. The followers of the cult had also built a symbolic plane runway with bamboo plane models in order to lure cargo to the island. They had also built flight control towers with local “dispatchers” sitting on duty with coconut headphones. Their priests had claimed about communicating with the higher forces “on the radio” with the help of women with wires around their waists.

This peculiar religion is referred to after its messiah John Frum. Most likely because the Americans often used to make fun of the locals saying: “Why work and toil? John from America (...John FROM America) will come and bring you everything without any work!” The locals believed and waited for the wizard John Frum to deliver them as much cargo as they needed!

Of course, only if everything was done right.

It sometimes happens

It sometimes happens that once or twice a year planes do bring generous gifts. That “luck” usually comes after devastating tsunamis and floods, when international organisations bring humanitarian support to the islands in the Pacific Ocean. It could be said that the cargo cult is probably the only existing religion, the followers of which had been repeatedly reassured that it’s “real”.

So, according to the islanders, someone needs to continue the job. Already several generations of cargo cult followers gather every Friday night at nakamal – main squares – of the villages of Ipeukel and Lamakar to sing ritual songs, accompanied by guitars. The residents of the island are convinced that the “cowboys” will return and make regular deliveries of abundant cargo to the Melanesians – just like their grandparents used to tell them. 

In 1960 during the Vietnam war some of the Hmong people also believed in the second coming of the Lord, wearing a masking uniform and driving a Jeep, who would bring them everything they need and take them to the promised land.

How do you wear cargo?

We could say that the cargo cult is a freeloader thinking, turned into a mystic belief. But is egalitarianism common only to tribal relations? What about grants and various social benefits, such as state policy regulation? Haven’t they become an act of waiting for support from somewhere above?

A superficial imitation is always worse than the real actions. For example, the cargo pants, which have become a rather modern fashion tendency. These pants have lots of pockets – large and small, detachable, double, with zippers and what not. There are even suggestions of how you should wear cargo.

If you don’t have enough things that you could put in all of these pockets, you could replace them with plastic props in order to justify the title of the model.

What’s the basis of the cargo cult?

It is not only the fashionistas that do their best to look brutal. Business is trying not to fall behind as well. Some people leave ghost cities, while others build new cities with houses that will never host a single spirit. That’s almost the same as the bamboo towers in Oceania.

Contemporary logistics centres (built according to high-end technology, rather than reed palms) are being built without a clear perspective of cargo turnover. The centres that are already open close down due to catastrophic lack of cargo. Of course, all large monopolists exist and operate according to a common plan, based on well-established rules. But who doesn’t dream of cargo falling from the sky?

Any job completed should be equal to the amount of potential and kinetic energy. That’s the law of physics. All changes firstly begin inside and then continue outside. Can you imagine what powerful force strives inside every one of us? With a condition that first of all we will start changing our personal attitude towards reality, instead of trying to change external circumstances.

And aren’t we the witnesses of conscious change of these concepts in each single field of the contemporary industrial world? How many of well-educated enthusiasts waste each other’s time wandering with “coconut earphones”, waiting for incredible dividends from doubtful contracts! Are the local islanders truly the only followers of the cargo cult? How should cargo be treated without turning it into a cult after all? 

 

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The magazine JŪRA has been published since 1935.
International business magazine JŪRA MOPE SEA has been
published since 1999.

ISSN 1392-7825

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