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The importance of knowing one's culture?

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8 replies to this topic

#1
Gee :)

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Well,I want to know why it is so important to know about culture..
If you're from a certain country, but say you've lived in another for your entire life,
should you have to know about the country of your origin?
Should you be compelled to know about the country you live in?
I see it happen both ways.People being disinterested in their own cultures or people being disinterested in the culture of the country in which they live....
What does identifying with elements of one culture contribute to their identity?
What if you don't identify with the culture of your origin?And feel more connected to a culture of a different country?
Do the actions & traditions of our predecessors(what makes up culture) have a big impact on a present day person?
What do you thinkk?

#2
Desy Glau

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yeah, I think knowing other cultures is important, very important. I guess I would share my own experience to further discuss this.

I am a Christian living in a Moslem country: Indonesia. Being a Chinese-Indonesian, I have always been living among Moslems and I have known some of their customs like the 5x salat/day, Friday prayer, haram food, etc.. As an indirect result, I would hear the Maghrib prayer everyday as there is a Mosque near my house. I would also not be able to eat pork most of the time as most restaurants do not sell food containing pork because it is haram. However, I am used to these, especially to the customs during the fasting month. I donít dare eating outside home before maghrib. I have to admit that I feel really really awkward if a friend (esp. virtual world friends; real world friends sometimes can guess as I look Chinese) asks me how my fasting is going, and I tell them I am a non-Moslem :S because most Indonesians are Moslem and people assume that most people that they meet is a Moslem.

I honestly am okay with all these as I totally respect other religions. Though I have to admit that I sometimes feel awkward when I go somewhere and every woman I meet wears a headscarf when I do not :S or when I meet a new friend, am talking to/chatting with them during maghrib and they tell me to go salat :S I feel really awkward when I tell people that I am a non-Moslem as they usually have a weird reaction as well.

I think itís very important to know their cultures. Imagine if you donít know about the Maghrib prayer and you get mad at the people who always pray aloud in the Mosque. Imagine if you donít know that they fast in the fasting month and you ask a Moslem out for lunch. These would be highly offensive and should be avoided as much as possible. This is why itís important to know the cultures in your environment.

PS. Sorry for talking about religious cultures in particular, and sorry if this sounds somehow offensive. :peace:

#3
pumkinns

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awwww desy, well it's important to know cultures, because each one has their own beliefs and traditions.

for example, the other day my friend told me how his life was back in india, and how he once invited his friend over for lunch, and they were eating beef. now some indians worship cows, and the kid found out only at the end of the meal. imagine the disrespect that went on, and how would that kid feel after eating their "god"....

it can be to know when to respect. or you can also be polite, i'll use desy's example of fasting. when muslims fast, they aren't allowed to eat anything or drink anything from sunrise till sunset, because it's a lesson for them to be able to understand how poor people feel, and how we must be willing to help because in these days we get a taste of what they have to go through, well actually there are many reasons for fasting, but my point is, it's not disrespect but if i was in front of someone who is fasting, and i'm eating all that i can i'll feel guilty cause in some way i'm making them suffer more. so some people tend to not eat in front of a fasting person.

so when you learn about different cultures, you would understand, and not be ignorant of other people.

#4
pieee

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I guess pumkinns and dessskris have pretty much given a good idea of the importance of knowing and understanding the culture that you live in.

But I think it's equally important, if not more, that you understand your own culture/ethnicity, even if you don't necessarily identify with it. I guess I say this out of personal experience too...
I would be quite a pity if you didn't understand your own culture. I don't mean people are racist or anything, but it cannot be denied that when people see me (or you), they are going to expect that you know about what/who you look like (to put it bluntly). And they will treat you and talk to you with the idea that you're from somewhere else roaming at the back of their mind, even if you yourself feel like you are completely isolated from that culture. You don't have to be that culture, but I feel that it is important to understand.
I guess that's also part of the reason why a lot of adopting parents feel the need to bring their adopted children back to their country of origin. It's not so much as understanding who you are (well, what you look like is a part of who you are, but I don't believe there are any inherent characteristics/personal qualities that come with a skin color) as understanding how other people see you.

#5
Proletariat

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I don't think it is important to know one's culture.

In fact, I would say sometimes it's even dangerous to do so.

Our current world runs on a system that has been articulated for hundreds of years, and has existed for thousands: that of nation-states and nationhood. These philosophies of clumped groups who band and stick together to fight and fend off other clumped groups is archaeic, and contributes to much of the world's problems.

Please don't get me wrong. In reality, I am a staunch advocate for multiculturalism, better understanding of different cultures, religions/ethnic tolerance, protection of minority rights, etc. But I do so because I am a pragmatist. It is always more fun for me to debate on theory, because I can expose my radical side XD.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt='XD' /> And I champion these ideas of social liberalism because I would like to see the world move to mutual understanding on a global scale, instead of on the scale of one's country. I would like to see less warring as a result of nationhood, and more peaceful coexistence. I would like to see recognition that all seven billion of us are members of Homo sapiens, instead of our species being fractured along artificial ethno/cultural lines. Perhaps I am showing too much idealism in this, but I truly do think lasting world peace is possible, and it will only be achievable through the elimination of anthropological differences with the replacement of nationalist world views with an internationalist, global, and dare I say humanist approach.

I can't think of any viewpoints of mine any more radical than my ideas on nationhood, and I don't expect to ever be able to articulate this theory to my satisfaction outside of a doctoral dissertation. I wholly expect most to disagree with my view on this issue, and this will be the one thread where I won't be responding again, since I currently lack the knowledge and literary ability to properly defend my own thesis.

However, when I look at the history of the human race, and think about all the genocides, wars, conflicts, massacres that have been committed in the name of cultural preservation, and when I look at the world now and how these same problems that have plagued us for the course of civilization still has not been alleviated, I cannot help but come to the conclusion that, quite simply, we can do better.

#6
Gee :)

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I don't think it is important to know one's culture.

In fact, I would say sometimes it's even dangerous to do so.

Our current world runs on a system that has been articulated for hundreds of years, and has existed for thousands: that of nation-states and nationhood. These philosophies of clumped groups who band and stick together to fight and fend off other clumped groups is archaeic, and contributes to much of the world's problems.

Please don't get me wrong. In reality, I am a staunch advocate for multiculturalism, better understanding of different cultures, religions/ethnic tolerance, protection of minority rights, etc. But I do so because I am a pragmatist. It is always more fun for me to debate on theory, because I can expose my radical side XD.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt='XD' /> And I champion these ideas of social liberalism because I would like to see the world move to mutual understanding on a global scale, instead of on the scale of one's country. I would like to see less warring as a result of nationhood, and more peaceful coexistence. I would like to see recognition that all seven billion of us are members of Homo sapiens, instead of our species being fractured along artificial ethno/cultural lines. Perhaps I am showing too much idealism in this, but I truly do think lasting world peace is possible, and it will only be achievable through the elimination of anthropological differences with the replacement of nationalist world views with an internationalist, global, and dare I say humanist approach.

I can't think of any viewpoints of mine any more radical than my ideas on nationhood, and I don't expect to ever be able to articulate this theory to my satisfaction outside of a doctoral dissertation. I wholly expect most to disagree with my view on this issue, and this will be the one thread where I won't be responding again, since I currently lack the knowledge and literary ability to properly defend my own thesis.

However, when I look at the history of the human race, and think about all the genocides, wars, conflicts, massacres that have been committed in the name of cultural preservation, and when I look at the world now and how these same problems that have plagued us for the course of civilization still has not been alleviated, I cannot help but come to the conclusion that, quite simply, we can do better.


Firstly,I have to mention that I really admire your vocabulary.
Secondly,I agree with what you're saying.The promotion of culture in some ways hinders efforts of world peace because it causes divisions ,as opposed to promoting integration and diversity throughout the world.I find that I am similar to you because I also support multiculturalism.However,I think my support of multiculturalism is more a support of diversity and understanding.
thank you for your response

Edited by Gee :), May 18, 2011 - 21:41.


#7
bigbangfan

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Hey Gee, thanks again for raising these interesting issues that match the essence of the IB. I would like to continue debating about marriage (if you are willing to answer my recent post :))
I believe that it is of great importance to know one's culture as it is a sign of our identity as human beings. Culture marks our costumes, beliefs and ways of thinking. By the means of our culture we can provide a specific viewpoint on a social issue. In my opinion one should know its culture and promote it in a constructive way, and avoid hinderness with other cultures as it results in wars and conflicts as Proletariat clearly stated.
It is essential to know other's culture to understand their perspective, ergo their situation. What human beings must achieve is cultural enrichment between different regions to foster mutual understanding.

Edited by bigbangfan, May 18, 2011 - 22:42.


#8
kenshi64

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Great topic, really something that requires discussion..

Well the thing is that English is a lingua franca (like common language people from different parts of the world use to communicate so we're all brought up spoken to in English and obviously replying in English, rarely do we communicate in our mother-tongue.

Speaking you mother-tongue is an integral part of knowing you culture, it represents the rich spoken and written literary heritage of your culture. So that's what you're losing, ask your self, if you don't speak your mother tongue and speak only English like most these days then what makes you different/ unique coz your culture in this scenario is just a senseless tag, if you were to classified ! :P

" Essentially your culture is like an unseen page on your passport"- Me

#9
Arrowhead

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I spent a large portion of my life in England and India, some time in Switzerland and America and now I'm studying at Uni in England. I was very international, so to speak, when I was younger and found most o fmy Indian customs and traditions annoying, if not downright obsolete. My parents are plenty progressive and forward thinking, they never considered it o be vital to have a deep knowledge of one's own culture unless we specifically asked for it.

When I was about 16 I was in TOK class one day and one of the examples someone used to articulate a point referred back to his culture (he was a Muslim) and he made a comparison to Hinduism. I was the only Indian in class and everyone's eyes swivelled to me to say something to somehow verify or respond to his assessment. I had nothing to say, because I knew nothing. That day I realised that from watching the telly and debates and research and History, I actually knew more about Christianity and Islam and cultures in various countries, than I knew about my own religion and culture in India. When I came back for Break soon after and was with my parents, I literally interrogated them for hours on end for days, trying to know as much as I could. At first it was just a simple inquiry here and there, but the more I heard, the more I was fascinated by my own origins.

My mother would talk at length about culture and how it influences the Arts and Literature in India, we made trips all over soon after seeing famous historical sights and artistic centres. It was like nothing I had ever seen before and I had already seen a lot of the world by then. My father taught me about our family history, where his family comes from, what our surname means, how we have an ancestral home in a remote village in India, and a deity that protects every one of our brood no matter where we may be. My grandmother (mother's mother) talked about having gotten married and been moved to Pakistan where my mother's maiden family were traditional zamindars (landlords). She had so many interesting anecdotes, stories, the rich culture of their times, how they moved to England, and eventually came to India. My mother's family history and their subculture was made known to me.

I can't really explain it, but having learnt so much (and I continue to learn) about my culture, roots, origin; it gives me a sense of identity that I never knew I was missing until I got it. I'm not a traditional person, by any means, but to know, comprehend, and appreciate one's origins is paramount to understanding oneself.

If nothing else, its fascinating to learn about, and knowledge gleaned can never be a waste.
Arrowhead.