In another post about culture a friend commented that we must guard against the idea that there is only one way to live. I agree completely. Surely that’s true if the guideline being used is a strict one, i.e. it lays out dogma that must be followed to the letter.
It may be possible, however, to come up with a meta-culture — a broad umbrella that all (or most) “good”, “decent”, “forward-thinking” cultures fall under. And that’s the standard that should be applied when looking at how to move a civilization along — not some specific metric that corresponds to an existing way of life, or any future one.
Example — take a successful family, one where the man earns his living in an intellectual field and the woman either works as well or stays home with the children (her choice, not his). The family drives a decent car, they live in a quiet neighborhood, and generally dislike being bothered. The parents can’t stand the modern “culture” they see from today’s youth on T.V. The failure to speak English correctly, the adoration of the violent, and the general disinterest in anything intellectual.
They also can’t stand an over-reliance on religion. They believe that morals are taught at home and that religion should be a loose guideline, if anything, rather than a strict set of rules to be adhered to. They abhor what they see around them and choose to raise thier children differently. They’ve had college plans from the first moment their children were born, and their idea of a good time is reading a book or going to a museum.
Well, what color is this family? What ethnic group do they fall into? What kind of foods do they like?
That’s the point — none of those issues enter into it. This could be a Black family, an Asian family, they could be from India, Latin America, or of European descent. It doesn’t matter. And if they were from those different places they’d like different things: different dances, different food, different music, etc. They can be wildly different while still falling under the classification of “positive”. Their culture is still one of success. It’s one of “forward motion”. It’s the kind of culture that leads to technology breakthroughs and moving forward as a people rather than war and hate.
Sadly, though, I know far more Asian and Indian families in America that fit this bill than I do Black families, Hispanic Families, or White families. In fact, Asian and Indian families are almost stereotyped in this direction. And guess what? Look at the jobs most Asians and Indians have. What percentage of them are below the poverty line? (Few) What percentage of them send their children to college? (Many) This is culture, friends and neighbors. Culture. It’s not race, it’s not ethnic group, it’s none of that crap. It’s all about what way of life you subscribe to, not what you look like or what kind of foods you eat. The sooner the world figures this out, the sooner we’ll be on the right path as a species.
[ February 2006 ]