Culture vultures?

I had an interesting conversation with someone from Nigeria this morning. He deals in producing clothes which help people with “multiple identities” define themselves. So here he is on a Southeast Asian tour getting the feel of the various cultures in this little corner of the world. That feel, combined with the different feels he has been getting from other parts of the world, would certainly help him in putting together clothes which would help at least certain categories of people put themselves together and stop being Humpty Dumpty. Well.

I think we define our culture, not the other way round. Of course, it goes back and forth, but we define our culture. Period. Remember the two vultures from Central Asia which got weary flying and came crashing down into Singapore’s Orchard Road shopping district a few decades ago? Well, they were Central Asian vultures when they were in Central Asia, but they found themselves turning into Shopping Vultures when they came over Singapore. Wherever in the world we may fly, or roam, we define and we express our culture. If we do not, if we allow others to determine who we are for us, then we indeed become Humpty Dumpty and start babbling incoherence as a result. If we allow Scott Adams or Douglas Adams or whichever other Adam to define what our culture is, or what we think it should be, we need a good solid, or rather, liquid, ten litres of water into our systems to cleanse and reset ourselves. Yes, I mean drink lots of water, and not only physically.

There was a certain wise man who once asserted that “Culture is the flip side of the coin of religion”. He was right, of course. Religion means what we believe. If we do not express what we believe, we do not have religion or even a moral code, we have schizophrenia. It leads us to run to and fro gathering more and more “knowledge” and “data” so that we can “prove” that whatsoever we believe is right. No, you can’t. You can only ensure that whatever you choose to believe in is falsifiable.

That young man from Nigeria is typical of humankind. I wish him well, and I hope he finds what he is really looking for.

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