Sunday, June 22, 2014

Aspects of Culture

How much truth is there in the claim that the youth of today have no respect and love for culture? The culture they were raised in, the culture they live around, or the culture they are expected to know. Yes, nowadays, boundaries and borders are much easier to transcend due to the reach of social media and modern transport. These very vessels might make it easier for us to live in a sort of digital, personal culture, where each person operates on their own and their primary interaction with the world and people around them happen across laptop and smart phone screens. 

I have heard many people of Indian descent lament the fact that their children do not speak their 'native languages' as well as they should, or appreciate the food that they themselves grew up with. However, I think  we are making a mistake in confusing children who are rejecting culture with children who are at an age where most need to rebel in order to learn. 

We will always pick and choose which aspects of culture are maintained from generation to generation, just as people pick and choose which aspects of their religion they are comfortable with. For example, for some, cutting the hair on their heads is a grave mistake; but their beards and mustaches will be impeccably kept. Others think that loving certain kinds of people is wrong, but they'll eat things that their religion supposedly forbids. Similarly, there will be certain parts of culture that will always appeal to us more than others. 

For those who are worried that appreciation for culture is dying out, think again. As long as humans appreciate the importance of place, love, emotions and the things that make us feel and tie us together, culture will still be highly relevant in society. 

I speak from experience of course. As an Indian Kenyan, I've come to realise we have a culture of our own. We're multilingual. We appreciate (and claim) many different kinds of food. Art is important and revered. We dress up in certain ways for important occasions. Indian Kenyan-ness has such a richness to it that's hard to describe in words. And at the end of the day, we know that we have an identity that we can uniquely claim as our own. 

1 comment:

TW said...

You have put it very aptly - modern transport and communications have altered the ways in which some of our culture is viewed and understood. But in the pot-pouri it all gets amended based on a lot of factors - resident culture, original culture, religious culture, educational culture, family culture, friendship culture; depends which one is predominant. And of course the amended or resultant culture needs to be looked at with "amended understanding"! Looking at the result with the same old binocular is bound to create confusion and even frayed tempers at times!

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