Wednesday, October 4, 2017
I was at a birthday party some weeks ago. I got there late, but apparently the wine had been flowing for some time. The subject of cultural appropriation came up. One young lady was extremely against one group of people adopting things from someone else's culture. She wasn't just talking about made in Taiwan “Indian” dream catchers either. Nope, she was pretty absolute about one culture not being able to borrow anything from another.
I'm hoping that in the sober light of day, she felt a bit sheepish about her position. Considering her Austrian background and the fact that she was arguing in English rather than German . . . Well, how dare she appropriate the English language like that. Sounds silly, I know, but her arguments made about as much sense. She did have a youthful passion though, so I'll give her that.
Personally, I'm a huge fan of adopting from other cultures. Let's use a computer analogy. A human being is the hardware. Culture is the software that runs on the system. Culture is the program that makes humans do what they do. Computers can be more useful with better programs. Humans can function better when operating with a better culture.
The beautiful thing about human beings is their ability to adapt and change. If you have exactly the same set of values at 60 as you had a 10 you haven't been paying attention. A 10 year old has the programming that their parents put into them. That's useful, otherwise we'd be no better than monkeys. However, our parents, through no fault of their own, passed down some crappy ideas. That might the same crappy ideas they got from their parents. They might not have even been bad ideas to start with, but are no longer useful in a changed world. As a person ages, they learn how to self program and adopt new cultural programming from the world around them.
Thanks to the Internet, we have exposure to a vast array of cultures and information. I've a theory. Given enough time, a “world culture” drawing from the best practices across the planet will emerge. Actually, there will probably be a number of new cultures as one size does not fit all. Everyone's built a little different.
Back in my college days it was fashionable to assume that all cultures were equivalent. Even Anthropology had a certain level of political correctness. When I studied some of these cultures, I was pretty glad many of them were dying out. Cultures based on incest and murdering all strangers really do not need to survive.