Sunday, October 31, 2004

The Ties that Bind

I've been thinking lot about the ties between culture and values. For the past few days, I have been google-ing through the web for some insight. Tonight, I was surprised to see the word “values” used in a definition of culture:

    "Culture is a group which shapes a person's values and identity." (source)

For most of my life, I have not paid much attention to where my values came from -- they kinda were just there. When I did think about them, I mostly attributed them to who I was; not tied in any way to my culture.

This definition makes me wonder even more what will happen as I am immersed in a new culture. It also helps me explain some of the changes I am undergoing as I begin to identify myself with a different group -- values are not as immutable as I have thought.

The same article had an statement that nailed a feeling I have, but previously could not easily put into words:

    "Often people of the mainstream America, the Anglo culture, perceive their behavior and beliefs as an ultimate norm, forgetting that Anglo culture is just one of the multiple cultures..."

I feel very sad when people view the rest of the world as wrong because the rest of the world does not have normal values.


rizleymelinda said...

The way I see it is from the time we are born were are creating a neurological map defining everything in our world. Not just in words, but in thoughts and feelings. One certain action leads to a classification of a normal behavior, all based upon your experiences alone. Someone who didn't have simular experiences may see the action as abnormal. A recent example for me was someone asked me who I was voting for in the election. I am very outspoken about being anti-bush, but the question about who I was going to vote for made me feel uneasy and hesitant. I started to question why, when I realize politics were taboo in my family because my parents didn't want to know that they were going to "cancel" eachother's votes. Anyways, somehow Americans need to experience other cultures so we are able to add that piece to our neurological map. But yeah, when I think about america judgement on the world it makes me sick.

Anonymous said...

I feel very sad when people view the rest of the world as wrong because the rest of the world does not have normal values.

Does it make you sad because there are those who view the rest of the world as “wrong” because of differing value systems or does it make you sad because these people don’t share *your* value system? Aren’t both views intolerant of differing values? If a person’s values are such that they are unable to accept differing value systems, isn’t it just as wrong for you to judge that person (“I feel very sad…”) as it is for them to judge others?

Tim H.

Jay Haase said...

Tim, thanks for the great question. I have thought about it all day. When you are not making me laugh, you are making me think -- you are truly one of my greatest friends!

You have discovered the heart of my beliefs:

*I seek to understand.
*I feel sad when I perceive others as shutting their door to understanding.

You have reminded me that I must be very careful so that I do not selectively shut my door to understanding.