Farmers Market

Einblick

Farfalline

Bilmek

Lewis & Quark


     Where do you live? Even more important, what are the people like where you live? We can hope that our neighbors, are good and kind. We can treat them kindly, and expect the same in return. But just kindness is not a religion or a culture. Almost (key word in this sentence, almost) all cultures endorse kindness. But kindness to whom? How long? For what end? Kindness is good, yes. But a culture and a worldview has to be more than that. 
     A culture is something that is produced by societies, learned through social interaction, transmitted from one generation to another. It is generally held in common by members of the society that generated it, which tend to be integrated (that is, internally coherent with different elements of cultures supporting rather than undermining each other), and which include things like knowledge, beliefs, behavior, values, norms, and even emotions. Any culture is essentially symbolic--symbolic in that it involves representations, visible things that stand for ideas, and thus contain meaning.
     Culture is the creation of people--what they like and approve of becomes "culture." Culture is a worldview created out of the most common value system. There is rarely a communion of people who decide to esteem money, wisdom, and warfare, and a culture is formed. In the time which we live in, most cultures have been established, and any culture we find that does not lie inside of our cultural categories, we place inside a group. We call certain things Asian, of German, or Mexican, because those culture look certain ways or do certain things.
      But it would be a gross oversimplification to say that culture is just a group of people who all like the same things. Culture is often tied to a nation--the American culture is distinct from a Mexican one. When a society begins to integrate itself with itself, those are people interacting with people. But everyone is different. Everyone has different personalities, desires, and tastes. These are typically harmless--you like your coffee a certain way. But these can be harmful too.
     Humans are humans. We have a nature. So why isn't every person the same? Human nature should dictate what we are. And yet everything has haters and aficionados. You can find a negative opinion on anything, or anyone. The difference in people stems from nurture--that's why Plato and Karl Marx, and anyone who has serious designs on the changing of culture or society starts with the education system. Each person's sense experience determines their difference. What they are told is good, what they are told is wrong, dictates the course of their life, even if they reject it. They change views based on the idea that the opposing idea was wrong.
     To make matters more confusing, people who reject ideas and join the other side rarely join only themselves. This is what's commonly referred to as a subculture. There cannot be only one culture. Some people love sports, some people hate sports. "Birds of a feather flock together." But neither culture is right or wrong. Neither culture is superior to the other. Both sides will tell you they are, but one opinion does not count more than the other. That's a relatively limpid subject.
       What if one culture endorses human sacrifice, while another does not? Here is an explicitly moral issue. (Sports is a moral issue, but it falls under a general category of entertainment.) Does one culture reserve the right to treat someone that way? Well, no, you say. Human sacrifice is murder. It's wrong. And in that moment, you've appealed outside the culture to an objective standard. You've measured a culture that sanctions human sacrifice and found it too short. You cannot make a cultural judgement purely inside of culture. Culture by definition is a system of subjective judgments. A system of subjectivity cannot claim to evaluate another system of subjective things.
      So the obvious ensues: a proper outside standard is biblical, and so on. A full explanation of what that entails is not needed here. In this context, it refers to changing the culture to meet that outside standard of judgement, so it can be judged good. That's our responsibility. Christians have the truth--they have Jesus Christ.
"I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)
     And like Plato reasoned in The Republic in favor of philosopher-kings, those who have the truth have the duty to use it. For him it was to rule. And ruling is more than over-lording. It is much more significantly serving. Most people do not have positions of power. They only have servitude. If we love our culture, if we want our culture to survive, we will serve it by telling it the truth.
     The truth is not always easy. It is not always accepted. Truth is more often hated. And cast out. It's easy to talk about it. "Disseminate the truth! Fight hard battles!" It won't be easy. And culture is changing. Find something you can change. Every million is made of thousands. Every thousand, of hundreds, and every hundred, of ones. Be a one.
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