Pictured is Amadeo García García. He is the last surviving member of the Taushiro, a tribe that has been a "mystery to linguists and anthropologists alike ... a tribe that vanished into the jungles of the Amazon basin in Peru generations ago, hoping to save itself from the invaders whose weapons and diseases had brought it to the brink of extinction."
But the tribe did not succeed in saving itself, and Amadeo is the last person on Earth who knows the language; he is the last evidence of the reality of a people, of an entire world, in fact, that is fading from reality into nothingness.
Amadeo's story is told by Nicholas Casey, in an article that appeared in the December 26, 2017, edition of The New York Times. It is a heartrending story. Speaking to Casey, Amadeo said:
At any moment I might disappear, my life will end, we don’t know how soon. The Taushiro don’t think about death. We just move on.
But the Taushiro won't be able to "move on." In Amadeo, they have come to the end. Casey's account of his conversations with Amadeo is deeply dyed with an almost unbearable poignancy, with the distress of an irremediable loss, of a sorrow beyond any power accurately to name it.
As I read Casey's story, I could not help but universalize. This story made me think of the history we are making now, as we drive the human species ever closer to extinction.
Perhaps, if we can feel what it would be like to be Amadeo (because we are so much like Amadeo), we can save ourselves from the extinction event that even now, we know, is coming after us, as the invaders came for the Taushiro.
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