Culture: Division or Diversity?
An interesting question was raised by commenter spaceagesage about our poem “what is culture?” (likely to the last line “do we need another word to further divide”) that prompted this post, and I hope to address it.
I feel many are too quick to embrace labels, branding themselves (and others) as full incarnations of some concept, set of cultural currents, or lifestyle. What is often overlooked, likely because its so obvious, is to first acknowledge our shared humanity. Engaging as individuals, instead of as representatives of some group or other, will more likely increase the potential of understanding, instead as seeing one another as walking sets of memeplexes.
In social situations I’ve been asked the dreaded question “What’s your background?”, usually a innocent question fueled by curiosity and as a conversational icebreaker. It’s likely because there are some visual distinctions in appearance and I appear to have come from somewhere else, despite the fact that I speak fluent english. I came here as a young child so have no great insight into “another culture”. So I pleasantly reply that I’ve lived here most of my life, and that’s that. Then I feel we can engage as individuals without the other innocently constructing bias based on some past experience of a culture or ethnicity.
The relationship between identity and culture is a deep, complex one that we hope to explore in future posts. In a crowded world with great potential for conflict, the question of culture cannot be simply dismissed as a semantic one. How we negotiate this question may be pivotal on how we deal with common challenges we’re likely to face in the near future.