This is a continuation of last week's blog. Now we turn our minds and senses to what culture is. There are two definitions: human and medical. Medical 'culture' is tied into what is grown in order to create or produce information for medical purposes, or in other ways scientific research. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/culture
Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Human culture drives us as a species to create traditions, values, mores, taboos, and use of language (formal and informal), and is essential to our well-being as an individual and as a group. I mentioned that human culture is the apex of all cultures because all cultures share things in common that makes us all human. To have language, you need culture. To have traditions such as how birthday parties are done and what social behaviors are appropriate for events is critical. This creates a social status in how 'things' are done in our lives.
No culture can live if it attempts to be exclusive. ~Mahatma Gandhi Each of us are a subculture due to the fact that we share common cultural traits. There are things that set us apart from one another such as gender, skin color, religion, disability, geographic locations, or social status. You could say that we are multicultural in some ways. A deaf person could be living in a hearing culture. A gay/lesbian person could be living in a straight community. Often times, cultures are created based on geographical locations. It is a common occurrence for a group of people to develop their own culture when they settle in the same region. Cultures can be developed across borders by common qualities such as drugs (yes there is a drug culture), language, education, or politics.
Anthropology is the academic study of humanity. Often times when people study outside of their culture it brings insight into their own.
Every view of the world that becomes extinct, every culture that disappears, diminishes a possibility of life. ~Octavio Paz When people move into a location or a social setting that is outside of their culture, the people there tend to think what that person believes or does is “wrong” because it is not what they are used to seeing. People that are set in that culture tend to be fearful of the “intruder” or try to force them to behave as they do. Regardless of the reason a person moved there (often times it is due to the job market), the people of that location think the new person needs to accommodate into their culture. This is called colonialism and we have seen this occur throughout world history. We see this out in the open through African slave trades, settlement of the American colonies, and Alexander the Great's journey into the Middle East and so on. There is colonialism still in practice today, such as the ideal that oralism is the solution to the deaf people's lack of social etiquette that hearing people abide by or the quality of education that is limited to those who can afford it.
Hatred is something peculiar. You will always find it strongest and most violent where there is the lowest degree of culture. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Some will question whether the hearing and white people and their cultures is the apex of all cultures; I say it is not. The reason for this is because they do not have some things in common with the rest of the population such as there are black people, American Indians, Asians, Eskimos and what not. Hearing people do not share same languages, spoken yes (while diverse) and yet there is a 'deviation' of language which is a 'taboo' to the majority of the hearing people which is signed languages. No one here in this world lives in an apex culture. Each of us come from a subculture and most of us live multicultural lives, now that we have become increasingly global.
This is what makes us essentially human: the fact that we have cultures and languages as a common basis. Culture is also fluid. Culture allows for traditional changes in music, languages, politics, values and social status. It will be interesting to see what the future hold for us as a human species fighting to retain their cultures and languages and yet be open to others.
I will focus on deaf culture and some hearing aspects next week.
Without culture, and the relative freedom it implies, society, even when perfect, is but a jungle. This is why any authentic creation is a gift to the future. ~Albert Camus
To Be Whole
Currently I am an ASL teacher at a local college and at an high school. I received my Masters in Sign Language Education from Gallaudet University. At home, I am an activist within the community, Northwest Indiana. My son is in first grade and my daughter goes to E.C.L.I.P.S.E. ASL Preschool. Change begins with you and change is effective with a team.