Tuesday, September 10, 2013

What is Culture?

We Are One
Pencil Sketch by Beverly Blanchard
It is word we hear every day.  People use it to identify and define themselves.  It is used to differentiate ourselves from other groups of people.  It is used in corporations as in the corporate culture.  There is fashion culture, music culture, art culture, language culture, heritage culture, folk culture, sexual culture, gender culture, community culture, drug culture...the list can go onto to infinity and yet it is a word which seems divide and separates us.

We fight over culture.  We blame other cultures for the plights within the world.  We use culture as a comparison mechanism.  My culture is better than your culture.  We define people based on imaginary little lines stroked across Planet Earth.  On this side of the line you are from that culture, and the people on that side of the line are from this culture.   We use culture as a word to instill fear and suggest that someone else’s culture will destroy us.  We stamp children at birth with a culture and tell them this is who they are and who they will be for the rest of their life.  We create stereotypes about the various cultures, and pigeonhole people. We hide behind culture and sometimes we use culture for the economic and social benefits.

Yet what exactly is culture?  Who defines it?  Who owns the culture?  Who speaks for a whole culture?  Is there such a thing as a whole culture? Do all the people under the umbrella of a particular culture all think the same?  What happens when you grow up and discover that the culture you are born into and the beliefs you accepted are no longer valid to your life?  Is there really such a thing as cultural appropriation?  Who creates the cultural road show and sanctions the changes within the culture? 

I had a lot of questions and being a researcher of life, I decided I would do a little independent survey on my afternoon walk.  I would stop people on my route and ask them a very simple question:  What is culture?

The responses I got from people were interesting.  Some looked at me with a blank stare and told me they had no idea.  Others told me it was the common beliefs, values and perceptions of a group of people.  There were others that said it dealt with heritage and some that said it dealt with the arts.  Religion and language also figured prominently into how people defined culture.  Information that was passed from their parents and their parents’ parents was also used to describe the word culture.  There was even an individual who told me, “That’s what I am told I don’t have.”

Upon arriving home, I realized that everyone seemed to have a different interpretation of the word.  So to complement my research I took to the internet.  Once again, I discovered depending on the website there are different definitions for the word.  Wikipedia provided a definition on the history of the word.  Other websites admitted that it was difficult to define culture but then gave me a definition of what constitutes culture.  There were others that provided me a list of characteristics of a particular culture.

In looking at the word culture and how we use it to differentiate ourselves, it appears to me that perhaps sometimes we limit ourselves in our thinking.  We put ourselves into tiny boxes and forget about who we really are.  We are all one.  We are all spiritual beings in human form experiencing the play of life.  Perhaps it is time we move away from focusing on our differences and start a movement that rejoices in our similarities.  We are all unique beings and under the Universal Law of One we are all sparks off the same Source.  If the Law of Reincarnation is true, then in reality we get to play all the roles at one point of time or another.  I think it is time to reclaim our power and quit playing the cultural diversion game.  As human beings don’t we all just want to be loved and love?

Here is a nice little video clip from Alan Watts...



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