Robarchek, Clayton A. and Carole J. Robarchek. 1992. “Cultures of War and Peace: A Comparative Study of Waorani and Semai.” In Aggression and Peacefulness in Humans and Other Primates, ed. James Silverberg and J. Patrick Gray, p.189-213. New York: Oxford University Press.
Until recently the Waorani of eastern Ecuador had one of the earth’s most violent human societies, with people constantly killing one another—even their own parents and grandparents. The Semai of Peninsular Malaysia, in comparison, have one of the world’s most peaceful societies, with almost no recorded violence. The authors have spent years studying the similarities and differences in both societies in an effort to understand human peacefulness and violence. The natural environmental conditions and some of the social organizations of both societies are remarkably similar; the major difference between the two peoples lies in their worldviews. The Waorani realize there is danger from attacks but they are not at all terrified by the surrounding environment. They expect to be highly independent and self-reliant. The Semai, in contrast, see themselves as helplessly surrounded by hostile forces, so they proceed cautiously with all their daily activities. Their security is found only in the sharing, peace and protection of their villages.