On Human Culture

Culture: the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations

Culture: the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group

Culture: the characteristic features of everyday existence (as diversions or a way of life} shared by people in a place or time

Culture: the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization

Culture: the set of values, conventions, or social practices associated with a particular field, activity, or societal characteristic (All the above are from Merriam-Webster)

I don’t know why, but I enjoy being around different cultures of human society, although growing up in a bilingual household may be part of it.

Across the US, geography creates different American cultures as rural-city, east-west, urban-suburban, Catholic-Protestant, Christian-Jew-Muslim-Hindu-Budahist, and many more. Pockets of ethnic neighborhoods remain today in many cities today where a foreign culture strives on American soil. Yep – count me as one who loves the Italian neighborhoods as in San Francisco (North Beach) and Boston (North End).

Today, I think of two important aspects of culture. First, American culture has a rich history of effects from immigration. After all, our melting pot heritage is loaded with remnants from days gone by. Secondly, given the ease of travel and communications and a worldwide economy, cultures are in contact with one another more and more with each passing day.

Our ballroom dance studio is an interesting place as I’ve gotten to know people from India, China, Guatemala, Russia, and Ukraine. On my recent work project, I’ve encountered a team from India. These very kind people noticed my interest in their culture, thus told me about their life in India and shared food with me that they prepared.

To me, the bottom line is simple and they have reinforced a something I believe – goodness is a human quality that transcends all cultures. Although we tend to dwell on the negative, we need to remind ourselves that good people are throughout the world. Through different languages, different religions, different ways of life, different dress, different ideologies, different traditions, different values, and different foods, goodness exists – thus kindness, smiles, and understanding go a long way.