On culture

What is culture? Culture is a loose grouping of habits or traits generally accepted by a wide demographic. Cultural traits can be local to a small neighbourhood or span across countries.

Unlike common belief, cultures are very alive, organic and continuously changing. Men, women and children do not lead their everyday lives in the manner of their previous generations, forefathers or as stated in religious books. On the contrary, cultures adapt to the needs and necessities of changing times. In fact the only norm in a culture is ironically, change. Every aspect of a culture changes over time. In some cases, those changes happen between a few years (prevalence of smartphone in everyday life) and in other cases, over several generations (the constant decline in the number of nuclear families in Asia). A resilient, or tolerant culture is one that adapts, not necessarily discards, prevalant practices to changing times. For example, the changing role of women in modern society and industry is drastically different from those of previous generations. While it was considered the norm for women to be restricted to managing households, modern women do everything their male peers are capable of.

Changes to culture, as with any aspect of life, are inevitable. It is inherently wrong to believe that cultural habits and traits do not, or should not change. Cultures adapt to people’s changing habits and times. Trying to undo cultural changes on a large scale, unless voluntary, usually does more harm than good (ongoing Middle Eastern crisis). A culture (or a change in any aspect of it) cannot be imposed on a demographic. Such impositions are usually a sign of insecurity and resistance to change. Culture, like society, is also cross-relegion, unlike common belief.

Culture is sometimes incorrectly confused with tradition and custom. Traditions tend to be more rigid in following than cultures. Traditions and customs usually have, or are, a set of rules laid out to be followed. Traditions and customs are more averse to change than culture. Many traditions and customs tend to be set and followed explicitly. Cultures on the other hand seem to evolve and change organically, without explicit guidance. Cultures grow and fade, adapting to a society’s changing needs and habits, by people who enter a society and get carried over by others who leave one and move to another. Some traits remain, some others change, some others fade away.

As with anything changing, there is no definite right or wrong. There are no good or bad cultures. All cultures are equal and belong to the people who are part of it. Different cultures are tolerant, understanding and respectful of each other and the people who are part of them. Those not adapting or rejecting cultural changes usually get left behind by ever-evolving societies.

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