August 21, 2006

The Importance of Culture

I'm in the last stages of finishing my book which now will be called Your Legacy Matters.    Yesterday, I touched upon culture and the importance of passing on the legacy of the culture we've inherited as a member of a family, of the communities to which we belong  and the civilization from which we are benefit. 

Culture is not just something we consume, but something we participate in.    One by one, family by family, we signal what is important by what we respect, what we support and what we are grateful for.    It seems to me that each of us has an obligation to save and pass on what we think is most important.  That is why so many stories I've read today are so dismaying.

Take this story.  Drunk Britons shatter peace of Lourdes and the riot police are called out.  How did they not learn respect for other people and their religion?    In country after country, the Brits are known as drunken louts.  Whatever happened to the British gentlemen.

Or this one.  Writing Off Reading.  In this group of 17 college sophomores, they struggled to come up with the name of a writer they liked.  The only one they could think of?  Dan Brown!  Despite GPAs above 3.5, they can't read or write even at a high school level.  Because they don't read for pleasure, they can't navigate the language.  I suspect that not one of their parents ever expressed appreciation for any book or books in general.

Juan Williams in Banish the Bling expresses his dismay at the culture of African American young people today,
a culture steeped in bitterness and nihilism, a culture that is a virtual blueprint for failure."
Cosby asked the chilling question: "What good is Brown " and all the victories of the civil rights era if nobody wants them?
Where is the civil rights groundswell on behalf of stronger marriages that will allow more children to grow up in two-parent families and have a better chance of staying out of poverty? Where are the marches demanding good schools for those children -- and the strong cultural reinforcement for high academic achievement (instead of the charge that minority students who get good grades are "acting white")? Where are the exhortations for children to reject the self-defeating stereotypes that reduce black people to violent, oversexed "gangstas," minstrel show comedians and mindless athletes?

The trend toward The Great Indoors is keeping children out of touch with nature.  How do you reverse the decline? The nature deficit is sending kids down a desolate path.

Never before in this country has the future loomed so impoverished.
I'm reminded of Ray Bradbury's  Fahrenheit 451 where firemen burn books so that no one will be able to rise up against the government because no one remembers the ideas of democracy or liberty.

Ignorance becomes bliss.  Only a brave few like Julie Christie in the movie directed by Francois Truffaut memorize the old books so the ideas won't be forgotten but can be passed on.

"Fahrenheit 451" (François Truffaut)


Posted by Jill Fallon at August 21, 2006 8:30 AM | Permalink