We communicate with one another in a variety of ways. This is commonly thought of as orated words and spoken dialect, but the complete package of communication ties everything together from body language, physical expressions, voice inflection, and so on.
How close do you stand to the other person. When is it appropriate to kiss. What are appropriate ways to introduce yourself. The tone and inflection in your voice when you talk. All these unwritten rules mark an underweaving web of interaction within a society.
What is Culture?
The origins of the word culture actually stems from the Latin root cultura, meaning “cultivation, agriculture.” Beginning around the 20th century, however, culture started being used to describe the behaviors and interactions of a society.
Culture is the fertile field in which we cultivate the soul and human expression. This is where we attempt to answer some of the questions above in how we communicate, as well as defining our own metrics and quality of relation with one another.
-how we walk
-how we talk
-what words are appropriate in a situation
-methods for bonding
-methods of making friends
-expression via art
-expression via music
-scholarly pursuits in study and interest
-relationships with other entities
Much like its Latin etymology, we can think of culture as a tree cultivating fruit. The tree (culture) creates a caste system the supports and holds together the fruit. These branches determine how close to fruit stand from one another on the tree, whether they shake and bobble when the wind blows, and how the fruit develops from an early seedling to harvest produce. Previous fruits that fell and decomposed on the ground provide the initial structuring and shaping of the trees branches. Such structures, however, are not locked in place. Some branches are cut down, others grow, as we continually re-shape the structure of the tree.
No single fruit on the tree has the capability to fertilize and produce a tree. It takes years of influence from various types of fruit. Most of the time, a tree will continue to produce the same type of fruit; a cultural shift is a very gradual thing to occur. But every now and then, an apple tree will make a lemon that adds a bit of zest and twang to the mix.
Re-Think How We Communicate With One Another
In this blog post, I will challenge the notions of how we commonly think of communication. We’ll explore some our current methods of interaction and cultural norms within relation to my own empirical understandings. Ever city has an active spirit. A pulse that circulates through a city when the human spirit is brought in close proximity with one another.
The beauty of culture is that we get to make it up. It can change to anything we want, in theory. No one other than ourselves gets to choose the way we carry ourselves. The way we talk. The way we walk. The way we interact. There are all of our choosing! Human express has run its course in evolution.
When Culture Turns Amazing
Imagine a society in which the phonetics were not a monotonous drag of “hello, how are you doing” but we greeted each other by singing.
Imagine a society in which we danced and moonwalked down the sidewalks rather than enclosing ourselves in a cacoon with synthetic beats streaming from an iPod.
Imagine a society in which we reversed our tolerance for violence and crime in media and films in replace of our lambastment for open displays of love and affection.
Imagine a society in which it was common to greet a stranger of the street with a hug and kiss and ask how their day is going.
Imagine a society in which meals were harvested and shared as a community. That companionship (word origin: com pan, or “with bread,”) was a nightly tradition honored in which we gathered around the table, and collectively shared our experiences.
Culture is of our choosing. The fertile soils in which we produce understanding, thoughts, and insights comes from the virtues we toil. Over the past years, my own personal journey has taken me to a variety of cities and places. Discovering a new culture to me is more delicious that a slice of butter melting on a big warm stack of flapjacks. And I’m a man who loves his flapjacks.
After spending an August in Barcelona, and now a February in Rio de Janeiro, I’ve slowly garnish an empirical understanding of how my ideal culture would operate. These months in Barcelona and Rio are the quintessences of what makes culture something special. Art, music, dance, food, conversation — all elements of human expression! Imagine a world in which we didn’t come home from work to veg out in front of the TV or Facebook, but rather made music in the street, designed elaborate paints and drawings, and drew silly faces on each other.
Spend an August in Barcelona or a February in Rio de Janeiro, and it won’t be that hard for you to imagine.
Last week, for example, I paraded with a sea of Brazilians through the city center for 6 hours. Musicians adorned with glow paint, streamers, costumes, and goofy hats created a symphonious harmony for us to dance to. Anyone with an instrument could come and play and go as they pleased. You would quite literally see groups of clowns, astronauts, and indians walking around with their instruments, taking a break to get a drink, before going back in again to make some music.
This isn’t some utopian distant belief … we could do this stuff all the time! Our culture could be an epicenter of thought, expression and ideas coming together. Life is could be a continuous celebration of the human spirit and ingenuity. We don’t have to continue to talk and address each other in the ways we currently do. Language is always evolving!
To create a dynamic society and perhaps re-think the ways we collectively communicate, it begins first with the individual. How do you express yourself? What statement to the rest of the universe do you make in demonstrating who you are? These are the fertile fields that cultivate the fruit bowl of tastes and flairs in life. This is the epicenter of where human thought, expression, and idea comes together. This is where we create and create again, defining our culture anew in every single way. What ways will you contribute? What fruits will your harvest? These are the questions we must continually ask ourselves. I can assure you, the juice is worth the squeeze.