Making our culture part of our lives

The concept of culture is hard for people living now to describe and to fathom – to see what the state of their culture is now. The buzz and bustle of daily life sucks you up, significant factors are often elusive and not so easy to discern. It is often left to historians to say what the past culture was.

Everything we do is culture, so the concept is all-encompassing – behaviour, food, drink, entertainment, politics, work, entertainment, religion, habits…..

Our culture is materialistic, spiritual values are sorely lacking, money is all. Moral values are hard to see in practice, nobody speaks about the concept of culture, there is no public discussion taking place. Such are some of the catchwords being used.

The concept of culture should be alive, we should see and reflect upon what goes on. There should be openness related to culture and its direction in a society. Culture is about our lives now. It is near you, it happens where you are. All culture is local, it can not happen elsewhere, conditions are different everywhere, so culture adapts to locality. Remember also that diversity is a great thing.

If we do not know what culture is, if we are unconscious in our handling of what we do, we do not know what to do to have a beneficial culture.

In Norway we had a massive killing in the summer of 2011. A single person perpetrated the act. The debate afterwards has been focused on administrative matters related to who was the most to blame for the lack of preparation and knowledge beforehand, the lack of ability to stop the shootings. What we saw was a total lack of preparations, inept handling of the situation as it developed and enormous diffuseness in peoples understanding of their responsibility as part of their jobs. As the process of understanding how this tragic happening came about grows on us and we see what happens now, the words responsibility and accountability have lost their meaning.

There should now be a deliberation of the cultural side of this – is there a need to assess Norwegian culture widely when such a happening can occur the way it did? Was this a single incident or may we see similar happenings? Are there non-beneficial factors at work in Norway?

In the US a school-shooting took place with a terrible outcome. Several other shootings have taken place recently and long before. Many matters have come up, among them gun-laws, medication practices related to mind altering drugs.

The US has also seen the Occupy Movement, strong criticism related to economic stratification of society, monopolistic corporate practices, lack of interest in environmental matters, the huge importance of greed and competition, the lack of ubiquitous welfare systems, the use of violence. The spending on military activity on such a huge scale surely can not go on for long.

Race and nationality is another matter in the world today. Large numbers of people are moving around, influencing the places they go to. This has always been an important factor in the US where millions have come to live their lives in the land of opportunity. Now there is pressure building, everybody is a foreigner it seems, practising their own cultures, and the ability to foster a common culture is hard to find. Even languages are not so sure anymore, Spanish may possibly soon be the dominant language.

This turn of events is now also coming to Norway where multiculturalism is building, and religious contention is the order of the day. The Nordic model may not last forever as the big organisations and corporations are having a dominant share of the political pie. Politics is no longer a participative activity with open deliberation and free debate as power games and party politicking is the order of the day.

The Chinese seems to be in a different situation where building welfare and equality is the foremost priority. The culture is seemingly uniform, but pressures related to urbanisation, income distribution, and foreign issues are moving up the political agenda.

Their political system is also being criticised due to its lack of alternatives, lack of real debate about big issues and no real elective processes. Mao’s great leap forward was a perfect disaster, and a political system where this kind of happening could take place surely must be improved.

The economic system is another matter, including its basic principles, where we truly can say that there are grave faults at work.

Everywhere there is psychosocial dynamism where issues like equality of the sexes, racism, xenophobia, religious differences are present.

Propaganda is the order of the day with public relations and information workers always very busy plying their trade in the spirit of mr. Bernays who wanted to crystallize public opinion into one.

Everywhere pressure is building, and people are nowhere participating in broad mass reflections about where this change is taking us. There are not many reflections taking place, the media, the politicians are busy powerbroking, trying to fix the economy. The masses of people are busy working and entertaining themselves. Society is superficial as everything hinges on worthless rituals.

Broad cultural issues are not present, writing or talk on issues affecting our daily lives are to be found only in a few places – where the oddballs are. Maybe this is like it always were. We are too busy living our lives to have time for culture and deeper issues.

The common idea in the world of using centralized politics to control countries, and further engaging in world wide activities as an extension of that is proving to be harmful, unfulfilling and even dangerous.

Informed self-governance is a long way off, broad participative processe also. Wise democracies based on collective wisdom is now rare. It is everywhere different in detail, but on a higher level it is very much the same-same.

But once in while do sit back and reflect, invite some people to join you and try to see what you have and what you would like to have. Do not even think of involving media as they will not be interested.

But reflection and deliberation is important and useful as it clears your mind, and let the ones near you know what you think, and spread the word. Progress will surely be seen if we all do a little bit of deep cultural work.

How will history measure our culture – the things we do that shape our culture?

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