On occasions in my training courses I am told, “this is *?&$£: culture, and it will not change”.
What is culture? I think it is beliefs, the way we are raised as children, and the influences of our parents, peers, the media, religion and the governments, but on a grand scale, that is as a country, a city, a town, a street, a family, where those beliefs and way of life are shared and lived.
I was born into a proud family, both on my father’s and mother’s side, not a rich family, but one that worked and saved hard for the future. We had high morals, respecting our elders and those less off than us. My family wanted the best they could afford, without begging, borrowing, or taking credit from banks.
Travel was a major adventure, even to go 15 miles would be planned for days. We stayed in our local community, it was the culture of our family and locality.
It was after I started college education and my computing career that I started to travel further and further from the nest, and experienced different communities, working practices and ways of living and working. My cultural behaviours and beliefs were changing.
biggest difference in beliefs and culture happened when I went to work in the Islamic country of Saudi Arabia, where a woman had no rights, could not drive, could not be with man unless they were married or family. There were no clubs, pubs, theaters or cinemas, no entertainment. Religion was restricted to Islam and no other. Their dress was completely different than that of the British, with their headdress and white thobe. It was their culture that I had to fit into, and I did for nearly six years, although I did not wear their dress style.
My travel for work and holidays to different countries continued to the far corners of the world, China to Peru. Cultures and beliefs being completely different, country to country, and region to region within those countries. My biggest cultural exposure was marrying Mee Len, a Chinese Malaysian.
The more I travel the more I see cultures beginning to change and to merge, where beliefs are beginning to become similar, but not the same.
Simple things like food. Every country or region has its’ specialties. But food is food, it is the way we prepare it, cook it, the ingredients combined to make it, the presentation and the way we eat it. Lamb is lamb, chicken is chicken, beef is beef and rice is rice.
The emergence of outlets such as Starbucks, Gloria Jeans, MacDonnell’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, kebabs, Indian and Chinese restaurants, in virtually every town in the world is changing the way we eat, for good or bad. These food outlets would not exist if the local people did not want them or eat in them.
The culture of preparing and eating at home, going for convenience food, is changing the culture of communities.
Television, radio, newsprint and the internet is introducing culture and beliefs of one community to another, and the young of the community want what they see, they want the food, they want the fashion.
Retail outlets like Zara, M&S, Carafour, Tesco, Walmart, sell the same products in their shops in London, Singapore, Ankara New York or Madrid, and the purchasing public buy it, changing the dress culture.
We are becoming one in the affluent and younger people, it is the older of us that hold on to the old dress, styles or culture.
The culture of travel is changing as we become more affluent, we buy more cars, we use public transport rather than walking, we tend to travel further from our homes to work, and take convenience food for lunch and snacks.
As we travel further to work and to study, the family structure changes. The family culture is breaking down. This is happening not only in 1st world counties but in 3rd world too, as people seeks work to support their family and changing life styles.
We are loosing cultural differences, and it is happening more quickly day by day. I am sorry to say nothing will stop it, culture has never been static, like language, it is always modifying to the influences of the environment, the community, and our knowledge as they change.
For those who do not like this change or loosing their culture, they can become entrenched in their beliefs of the old ways, and can become very aggressive in their views, often going to extremes to display the culture they believe in, with their dress and behaviour.
We should celebrate our cultural differences and keep them, but we should respect other peoples and communities beliefs and cultures.
We will never stop cultural change.
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