The cool thing about life: our future is not pre-determined. We have the power to change our own future, by creating our own culture, or even importing parts of culture from other places on earth (or cultures from past history), for you to become the most epic you possible!
Culture cannot start from scratch (ab initio)
To start, what does the word ‘culture’ even mean?
This question curiously came to me, when my sister Jennifer ordered some awesome Dalat Milk Yogurt. It occurred to me that to start yogurt, you need some yogurt “culture” from another source. I also like this metaphor of yogurt:
To start a new yogurt colony, you need a little bit of pre-existing yogurt culture from another source.
Which means, you cannot start a new yogurt colony entirely from scratch.
This is also like humanity — we need pre-existing social and cultural structures to start a new colony, or to create a new culture. We need to import a little bit of pre-existing culture to start our new culture, but then we have the power to steer this new culture and flavor it however we desire.
From the Latin, culture comes from “colo” which means,
- I till, cultivate
- I inhabit
- I protect, nurture
- (Figuratively) I worship, honor.
To me this is fascinating, because with modern-day culture, we have the power to do several things:
- To fill and cultivate our own culture, like how we till and cultivate land and food crops.
- We can inhabit a certain culture, and decide how to best nurture this culture, protect it, and spread it.
- Lastly, whatever our culture is— we choose it because we honor, worship, and respect these values or cultural norms.
Where are we indoctrinated with the culture we believe in?
In modern society, most of our culture comes from our religion, our parents, our schools, our teachers, our bosses, and the social-economic structure in which we were born in.
In America, we have a mix of Puritan-Protestant culture, Individualism/Utilitarian culture (Jeremy Bentham), Capitalism-Consumerism, and now —Silicon Valley and “big data” workshop/“data deification” (that somehow AI and data has more wisdom than individual human beings).
Anyways, we have the power to reject and unlearn certain cultural values —if we choose to. I think as individuals, we must always question and challenge our cultural values and norms — and if we see it as a prison of our mind; we must break free (think of the Matrix, or Plato’s analogy of the cave). We think we are free-thinking and spirited, but in reality, we might be prisoners to these cultural norms and structures, which want us to obey!
We are the new slaves — except we are now slaves to our emails, social media notifications, chasing more money fame and popularity, and the slave of the opinion of others (online crowd-sourcing of our self-esteem).
Questions to ask yourself:
No right or wrong answers here. Just be honest with yourself:
- What culture is ideal for you? Does it already exist somewhere in the world, and would you want to move and live there?
- Are there certain cultural norms or values you like from foreign places, that you wish to import into your own pre-existing society?
- Is there such thing as an ideal society or culture? It so, would it be heaven (utopia) or a hell? (dystopia).
- If you lived in an ideal society or culture, would you suddenly be happy for the rest of your life?
- Can you create a culture by yourself?
- Do you believe that you have control over your own future and destiny?
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