The noun ‘culture’ has various definitions; I refer to culture in the sense of ‘the way of life’. Culture is about how one conducts life on a day to day basis - the beliefs, traditions, values, social norms, language, and arts. Culture unites people of a single society together through shared beliefs, customs, and expectations. We continually develop and define our culture.
A lot has changed in the past decade, owing to globalisation, digitisation, impact of mass media and social media. The world is increasingly becoming one large society, more homogenous, particularly in the urban spaces. The intermingling of races is resulting in a multi-cultural social set up. But, this also means we have more choice and more responsibility.
We often overlook the preservation of what has been passed on to us from generations. Most of us either don’t think it is essential or do not have the time for it. We are adopting more ‘convenient’ ways of life, without the required thought, and in the process completely writing off decades or sometimes centuries of wisdom from our ancestors. There is a certain degree of cultural change that happens naturally due to evolution, but then there is an element of erosion here.
There is enough merit in the argument that one must preserve individual cultures. Culture provides for artistic expression, and a sense of belonging. It increases sensitivity. Most importantly, it is a subtle way of developing the intellectual and moral faculties in the next generation. There has to be a careful selection of aspects of culture to be preserved. Let’s use scientific temper to weed out superstition, and other negative aspects. Let’s try to understand the reason behind things and whether it is still valid.
We are, after all, a part of our lineages. Our intrinsic happiness is in continuing to be a part and in playing our part. Our individual intelligence is no match to centuries of wisdom of our forebears. This doesn’t mean we do not acquire and use knowledge. In fact, we must do so to improvise on what our forebearers left us with.
- The reader is based in the UAE