Random ramblings of a mind damaged by years of disuse and abuse. Also a place to go to be bored to tears.
The Random Comic Strip
Words to live by...
"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."
(The right to looseness has been officially given)
"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."
Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
On grapefruit and culture
As I cut, squeezed, and blenderized grapefruit to make some juice (and even a few grapefruit ice cubes) I tried to think about what I should write about today. I come up blank a lot of times, it's my nature. I'm a blockhead. That is, a lot of thoughts get blocked in my head.
I have been thinking about cultures of late. Possibly because of the contrast between the Japanese culture and the American one in regards to the disasters in Japan. There are a number of differences but we could call the Japanese a fairly homogeneous one while American culture is more.... well, it really isn't one anymore. That is, it is so fragmented by the immigration of so many different ethnic groups (who bring their cultures with them) that American culture is highly dependent upon where you are in the country. We have a southern culture (which is actually southeastern), we have a western culture which is a mix of several again depending upon what state you are in. We have a northeastern culture and a midwest culture and any number of subcultures at city level and even below that. Each of these reflects the heritages of the dominant population of that area. Or at least the once dominant population.
A wise person once said "language is culture." I have no idea who that wise person was. But it isn't quite true or maybe it is true in a broad sense. Maybe dialect is culture also. Or reflects culture.
First, let's define culture. I like this one: "The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or group."
I think that provides a foundation for how a culture forms. I would say families each have their own culture, of a sort. They may have traditions, a history, values, goals, and standards that are handed down through the family. Mine didn't. Our family was/is quite fragmented. And we have little sense of our history. We are a mix of Protestant and Catholic. That alone should keep us fragmented. Our values are simple and also quite common. Our goals are practically non-existent. We have no family traditions. But that's us and we are a sorry lot at times. Most families do have these things.
As I see it, humans evolved from families into tribes into societies into cultures. Nations grew out of the cultures. Nations are usually fairly homogeneous. The evolution of their culture, built primarily upon the culture of the dominant tribe in the region, is influenced by war and migration. America has been greatly influenced by both but I think mostly by migration.
The only worrisome thing about cultures is the apparently inherent competitive nature of successful ones. There is a tendency to believe one's culture is superior to all others. All have creation myths which define the people as descended from gods or put there by gods. This has caused countless problems over the millennia.
Will we ever evolve a human culture? One which unites us rather than divides us? Or will there always be conflict?