«Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old» (Isaiah 43:18).
IF YOU COULD GO deep into the Amazon rainforest by way of the Maici River, you might be able to see the nearly two hundred members of the Pirahά tribe. These Brazilian natives, who live in eight villages along the Maici, speak a completely isolated language, with no connection to any current language. The Pirahά have peculiar characteristics that have been collected into a grammar system by American linguist Daniel L. Everett. Among the unique features of this language there are two that stand out: there are no verbal forms in the past tense and there is no grammatical number.
Let us take a look at the first peculiarity: there are no past tense verbs. This, without a doubt, must connect them tremendously with the present, with the here and now. Of course, one thing is language and another is real life, but can you imagine living in such a way that what has happened in the past is forgotten to the point that you don’t even find the words to tell about it? What really matters is the present, and to live it well it does not help us to be repeating in our mind, by way of words, those negative things that have happened to us. “Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert» (Isaiah 43:18,19).
The second peculiarity means that there are no numerals, meaning that they do not have the concept of counting; they only manage the concepts of little/ small and much/large. Beyond these concepts, they do not distinguish between singular and plural, that is, whether there is one or nine. It seems that, in their daily lives, it is the same to them whether they have a hundred coins or seventy. In fact, it was Professor Everett himself who confirmed to them that they were being deceived by other people in their business deals. Can you imagine living in such a way that you do not worry about having a lot or a little? Bible says that «we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content» (1 Timothy 6:7′ 8)’ but some of us in our «tribes» find it harder to believe—and to live accordingly— than others.
The past affects us too much and we care too much about material things. So, what do you say we start working today so that both of these things mark our present less and less each day?