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The Real Lord of the Flies Story

Australian sailor Peter Warner just died at age 90. His passing is remembered for his role in a real life version of Lord of the Flies.

Lord of the Flies is William Golding’s 1954 book about a group of young boys who are stranded on a deserted island. Their world quickly devolves into a social dystopia.

Glenn Stanton of Focus on the Family wrote an article for First Things magazine using this fictional story as an illustration of the superiority of women. He wrote:

Golding’s Lord of the Flies is a tale not so much about the dark nature of humanity as about the isolation of the masculine from the feminine. Had there been just a few confident girls amongst those boys, its conclusion might have been more Swiss Family Robinson.

In 1965, a group of six real life boys in the South Pacific stole a boat and went for a joyride. But a storm damaged the boat and drove them out to sea and to a deserted island 100 miles away.

The boys, ages 13 to 16, managed to survive just fine for 15 months until Warner found them and rescued them. They originally foraged for coconuts and fish, but were also able to take advantage of the ruins of a former settlement on the island to find tools like a machete. And they started and kept a fire going the entire time.

According to the New York Times obituary of Warner:

The boys built a makeshift settlement, with a thatched-roof hut, a garden and, for recreation, a badminton court and an open-air gymnasium, complete with a bench press. One of the boys, Kolo Fekitoa, fashioned a guitar out of debris from the boat, and they began and ended every day with songs and prayer.

They established a strict duty roster, rotating among resting, gathering food and watching for ships. If a fight broke out, the antagonists had to walk to opposite ends of the island and return, ideally having cooled off. When Stephen broke his leg, the others fashioned a splint; his leg healed perfectly.

In other words, real life turned out to be the opposite of the Lord of the Flies scenarios. Six teenagers were able to recreate a miniature but functional civilization while being completely cutoff from the outside world.

Men are frequently viewed as the despoilers of civilization. This story tells something closer to the real story: men are actually the creators of civilization.

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