In class, we defined culture as a way of life, a shared set of values, beliefs, understanding or ideas between a group of people or a shared “identity”. Although we don’t think about it, brushing your teeth is in fact part of culture. The health care culture, which makes up part of Canada’s (and many other countries’) cultures, has a shared value of healthy lifestyle and practices that we do to keep in accordance with these values. As you can see, there can be cultures within cultures, and groups of cultures make up larger cultures. If we wanted to, it would be possible to combine every person’s cultures under the title of “human culture”.
My question about culture relates to my word of the year, start. When we started discussing culture in class, I couldn’t help but wonder: How is a culture created? There have been cultures that go back hundreds of years ago, and then there are newer cultures that have formed in only the past few years like the hip-hop culture, which definitely wasn’t around when the Greeks and Egyptians had full cultures with religious, academic and social practices. Culture is something that develops over time, through old traditions and new ideas. So when does something stop being a random occurrence and start being a cultural choice? I decided culture required a conscious decision by a group of people, such as scientists or doctors, who may share the idea of good dental hygiene and decide to practice it once in the evening and once in the morning, or after every meal with many-flavoured gels and colourful brushes. It may seem normal to us, but to a different culture, or even a group of living things that have a different understanding than we do, this is a very strange practice. Cats and dogs don’t seem to understand why we shove bristle-y things with chicken-flavoured goop into their mouths, for example.
Since culture affects how every individual acts, what is it that make a culture the way it is? Do a bunch of people simultaneously have the same idea, or do views shift and change until one culture wins out over the rest in an area? How many people do you need for something to be considered a culture, and not just the actions of an individual? Can animals have culture too?
Culture relies on and is made up of individual people brought together. Without it, the culture is lost, or is not created in the first place. I look forwards to learning more about the origins of culture, and exploring the many small and unique cultures that participate in my life (such as the TALONS culture). Hopefully this journey will help me better define who I am and what I stand for through how I live my life with others.