Culture is a topic that seems so simple yet is extremely complicated as it can mean so many things to different people. Whether it’s school culture, teen culture, or pop culture, culture greatly impacts our communities both positively and negatively.
One universal example of this is the cultural differences between kids and parents that often stems from the differences in their upbringing. This disconnect between generations sometimes causes trouble within families which manifests itself in disagreements over students’ interests and desires, such as when a student wants to take on a responsibility the parents think their child isn’t ready for, like driving.
Before proceeding, a definition to operate by is necessary. Merriam-Webster’s first entry will suffice: “The customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group.” Culture tends to be a set of practices and customs that are intangible and therefore can be practiced by anyone. What, then, causes the hostility and sometimes bloodshed in its name? And where does it even come from? Forming groups and developing distinct customs has been a property of humanity from its earliest days. This practice speaks to innate need for community, for belonging, for the longing to be part of something greater than the self. And the outcome of this has its sides. It can generate systems and knowledge that displays the pinnacles of human achievement in ingenuity and empathy, such as the culture of giving that is cultivated when communities come together to assist those in need. It can also build a toxic, vile trap that encourages monstrous crimes and compliance without question. And what happens when these communities cross paths? Growth and harmony, perhaps. But there is a reason the polar opposite is more commonly heard of, and that’s not just because of some sort of psychological effect that magnifies the negative. No, it’s because turmoil and conflict do occur.
As improved means of communication continue to allow cultures to be introduced to one another, this idea of cultural conflict will become more and more relevant. It is likely that some components of certain cultures will fade. They will change, evolve, and new ones will emerge. None of this is to grieve for or cultivate hatred over. Cultures changing, emerging, and fading are part of the fabric of progress. Culture is the living, breathing will of those that practice it. Cultures are kept alive by people commemorating them and passing them on. Future generations will take the torch, inheriting rich and diverse pasts that will be built on for as long as humanity exists.