The question, while being in the 21st century, may be very relatable as the definition and evolution of cultures around the world are changing rapidly with the pace of human understanding facilitated by technology. There are people who don’t support having any culture, and yet there are people who are deeply cultural. Who is correct? Is there really a need to have any culture at all? We shall explore these questions here in this blog. Let’s go deeper into the word culture, and its history.
What is culture? Culture is a combined collection of efforts of generations of human beings in a civilization that packs all the intellectual understanding, explorations, knowledge gathered on a variety of aspects like food, education, health, etc. entwined into a way of life. Different parts of the world evolved different ways of life according to the influences on them by several factors. Hence, many cultures evolved around the world and perished with the passage of time. The present generation takes up the knowledge forward left by their ancestors from the beginning of evolution to the next generation, adding some elements of knowledge and insight to it and also eliminating the unnecessary elements with which contaminations happened. This is how evolution happens.
If we look from this perspective, even if we don’t want to be cultural, our everyday lives are a byproduct of the same. The food we eat, the way in which we speak and communicate, the way our society is structured is part of the culture. Thus, without even being aware of it, people from different parts of the world are intimately related to their culture that has evolved with time around them. The people who don’t support any culture are the ones who don’t want certain elements associated with their way of living. Are they wrong? Not necessarily. Much more than being right or wrong, it’s about relevance. Somewhere, the terms ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ are totally in a social context. What seems right in one society can be wrong in the other. That’s not of any importance to us. About being relevant, yes, there are certain elements that were relevant at some time, but is not relevant now.
Can someone be without culture? Almost all of the human population is driven by emotion. Hence, there needs to be some belief, some notions, some ideas to be clung continuously to. This itself forms up a culture. There are cultures that are monotheistic(Abrahamism), polytheistic(Hinduism) & atheistic(Buddhism), yet they all are surviving to this date accordingly. Because there has to be a constructive way in which human beings flourish to their capability, a support system is needed on which he can build himself. This is culture.
Let’s start from the absolute basics.
You wake up and the first thing you do is go to the toilet or brush your teeth- the structure of the toilet or the toothpaste you’re is a product of a culture and an evolution of generations of people who used to shit in open places and slowly optimized to where you excrete today. When you sit for breakfast, once again, the proper balance of nutrients in food is because of a very strenuous and sensitive exploration of our ancestors. If you are left in a jungle without anything, you probably won’t be even able to identify which fruits are poisonous and which are safe to eat, forget about nutritional values. After breakfast, maybe you conversate a little- once again the language that you use is intimately a part of the culture, it took generations of optimization and a very organized memory because of which we can communicate so fluently today.
The next thing for you maybe is to change clothes to be ready for work- once again, if you think about how the dresses originated to such fashionable and beautiful pieces, our ancestors started from leaves and bark of trees. Next, you get into an automobile, once again it’s an optimization of our tendency of locomotion which started with tree trunks and then to wheels and you know the story! By now, it is evident that you’re an intricate part of some culture, a culture that brought you up and decided every outfit about you- attitudes and behavior, clothing, food, shelter, language, and even largely influenced the way you think.
Trying to be without culture would be to start from absolute nomads, the way the first human beings started millions of years ago. While it may sound an attractive and revolutionary idea to stay cultureless, from all the discussion we had above, it can be justified that the word “cultureless” is just a word, of no practical relevance. Instead of trying to be anti-culture, we can just look fresh and deep into its origins, the efforts generations of wonderful human beings put in, and the unnecessary elements that swept in with time, that is of no present relevance. This will let us utilize their efforts and also help us add more value to it, which is the human endeavor on this small Earth. Carrying all these perspectives in my mind, the Indian culture in its core form has thoroughly intrigued me.
I am astounded every day by the fact that this is the only culture that not only sustained for the longest time on this planet but also was the hub of absolutely fantastic and incomparable human beings who were at the epitome of exploring life to its utmost depth- were the source of every possible kind of knowledge, the destination to every form of human endeavor and questions, who made India the richest nation in the world for thousands of years- rich not only in its wealth but also in the values, the ways of life and the enlightened approach to every aspect of life and living they made. There’s a lot to learn, a lot to add to it, and a lot to carry it forward. I could write blogs and blogs but won’t be able to compensate for even a fraction of the wonder this land and its culture is.
So, is having culture a necessity? I want to know your opinions down in the comments below!