Culture and Preservation

I was reading a debate regarding immigration among other things and I was reminded of the inherent challenge of culture, nationality, and individual views in these situations. Many of history’s greatest moments and its most dire are the result of one culture meeting and mixing with another. Some kind of violence is almost always part of the story.

Personally, I embrace change. I’m always interested in taking cultural ideas of others and making those I like part of my own; and yet, there are certain values and ideas that I do take to be core personal values I will not part with. I actively promote them and challenge those who would not uphold them.

You might say I have some faith in the idea that good ideas will survive and poor ones will fail in the competition of the marketplace of ideas. And of course I figure my ideas will win out eventually and overall in the world it feels to me like they have been winning out. Not everywhere, not all the time, but slowly but surely. Whether that’s the world becoming more like me, or me more like the world, or just personal ego I can’t say.

I know many don’t feel as I do. I know that many feel their cultures are under attack and that unless they take dramatic action they can’t survive. I know that many feel that any change or adaptation is tantamount to the death of that culture. While I can sympathise, what I tend to see is that those who don’t adapt die out. Cultures didn’t get to the way they are by not changing and innovating. It was trying new things and growing that got the great cultures of history and modernity to where they are today.

Of course change can mean loss, ideas forgotten, beauty destroyed and loss is something that strikes us at our core. Therefore I think that as people change and adapt, we need to record and remember what was in case we need it again or simply for its own sake. We as human beings should adapt, and with us our culture, yet we should make record of who and what we were.

I think in any culture there are rolls for different people. Those who find change brings the pain of loss should be charged with keeping for us a record of who we were, even embodying it themselves. But those people should not prescribe this attitude for all. Others should be pioneers on the leading edge of change, taking new ideas from other cultures and making them their own.

And the final key is to have awareness we need both, and that these two activities are not at odds with one another. Those who prefer tradition should be honored for keeping it and those who lead change should be honored for their efforts. I think through this attitude we can have mix and mingle knowing we will neither lose our own past, nor remain behind rigid lines in a battle for cultural purity.

 

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