Saturday, May 24, 2008

CULTURE


# noun: the raising of plants or animals
# noun: the growing of microorganisms in a nutrient medium
# noun: the tastes in art and manners that are favored by a social group
# noun: the attitudes and behavior that are characteristic of a particular social group or organization
# noun: a particular society at a particular time and place
# noun: the product of cultivating micro-organisms in a nutrient medium
# noun: all the knowledge and values shared by a society



What is "culture"?

My own understanding of the word is that Culture is "the collection of thoughts, believes, accepted behaviors, art forms and disciplines that are settled upon over time by a group of people as they experience life in this world and adopt certain common standards as a means of accentuating certain desired outcomes or cope with certain forces that is either beyond their power to control or beyond their understanding during a specific period in time".

That's it.

My viewpoint that I express in my writings and in my personal relationships are projected from this understanding that I hold about culture.

As with a flower garden a culture must be MANAGED lest the defacto state of man starts to dominate and take over just as the weeds and crab grass who are more dominant in their propagation and resiliency take over and rob the manicured varieties of plants of their needed nutrients and sunlight. In mankind, civility is just as tenuous as is a flower garden. Only clarity in one's intended outcomes allows that prize winning garden to be expressed. The Earth, however, is more fully covered with the more hearty variety of vegetation that has less pruning and sculpting toward a more desired end.

This is not a statement of superiority or exclusivity - to be clear. It is my opinion that any patch of land on Earth can be made fertile except for the driest of desert or the coldest of environments. It is all a matter of having those specific plants on that specific patch of land being provided with the ideal conditions that they need to grow, bear fruit for consumption and reproduce themselves for the next growing season. The specific system shown on those specific plants make the difference rather than having the entire world having been brought to the idea temperature. Certainly an air conditioned greenhouse placed in the Antarctic could bear fruit as it is not exposed to the elements that would kill it. A child is like a plant or flower in this regard. If the forces bearing directly upon him are more powerful than the prevailing forces that reside just outside of his domain then yes he too can survive and thrive.

So how does all of this relate to the African-American - you might ask? I was motivated to write this entry because as I listen to certain operatives discuss our "Slave past" it is all too clear that they are clueless about how culture works and the powerful force that it proves to be. Indeed they are correct that the experience of slavery and colonization hijacked the African's culture from his own control. During this time interval in history he was converted from an independent practitioner over to a being that was in service to another man's goals for him. Into that of a basic laborer and chattel in many cases. It is also true that out of this long oppression a culture was developed as a means of allowing us to both cope with the situation and to protect our loved one's from "Doing something stupid" like daring to tell a White man that he cheated us out of money during the days of sharecropping. In showing that you know how to count - you could get killed. (As with some people within our community today - a Negro who asks too many questions and who challenges the prevailing authority could be subjected to an attack).

So where does all of this bring us concerning today's challenge? In my opinion those who are very knowledgeable about the history of how our culture was stolen are not necessarily the best people with the best mindset to tell us how to build a new culture. If the assumption is that a culture is amassed over time through trial and experiences that will accentuate certain positive things and repress others that prove harmful then their basic tendency to outsource our basic human needs over to the government in the name of RIGHTS seems to be a perversion of this entire collection of knowledge that we know about a healthy culture and how it is the product of centuries of experience. A culture is the proverbial "don't put your hand on that hot stove" that is communicated from one generation to the next because it will allow the proceeding generations to build atop the learning without fighting to settle upon the basics.

If you have benefits and resources rained down upon you per your national rights - and I must add - if history proves that the nation state is both a recent and temporary civil contract that is only as strong as its own inherent ability to both finance itself and have its individual members agree to the bond - why base your people's condition on the notion that this entity will be around for their benefit. This is the construction of one's house on sand rather than bedrock.

The cultural development bias that has the best chance of producing a certain benefit for the people and enduring over time is one that pays a premium toward "organicism". This is where the community has the mind that doing for self is superior to that of receiving from another. In doing for self the group itself must learn the technical skills, the economic trade offs and the human disciplinary elements necessary to express their own high order fate that they are attracted to. They know that their condition is a function of their own ability to express this rather than a function of having some outer government modified so that they can receive the same benefit that they see others having. This is turned inside out. The statement now becomes - If we desire what these others have then we will consider the elements of how they obtained what they have. We will accept that which is agreeable and repudiate that which was gotten via unsavory means. When we do obtain what they have - we will have obtained it from our own industriousness rather than from our ability to lobby them to "share" what they have.

Step back and consider all of the issues - resources, benefits, justice, civility, economics. Which of these items are more likely to be achieved by changing the bias of our culture?

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