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Culture and Nature

Culture and Nature
What creates a distinct culture?Photo by Jose Antonio Alba

We all use the word "culture" on a daily basis, and just guessing its real meaning. How would we explain what it is? I would say it is all we know, all we do and all we believe in. The term was first used by English anthropologist Edward B. Tylor in his book, Primitive Culture, from 1871.  He said that culture "includes capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society." The Center for Advance Research on Language Acquisition defines culture as a group of interactions and patterns of behaviors influenced by socializations, and of course, the same cognitive characteristics in a particular group of people.

That means a group of people that shares the same culture has its own manners, morals, language (or at least a dialect), tradition, art, cuisine and other cultural aspects that, on the other side distinguish it from another culture. And that makes the body of a culture, which is the first layer. The second one is a subculture, and it is made by all those characteristics you saved from your first, original culture. Per example, the American culture has its subcultures such as Hispanic Americans, or African Americans. And the third layer is cultural universals: the patterns of behaviors mutual for all humankind (having art, verbal language, a leader, some rules etc.)

It is difficult to say what exactly has the biggest influence in the creation of a culture. Is it the history of that area that made people believing in certain moral values? Or is it a type of land geoagraphy that made people cook that certain food for ages and make a living only based on agriculture? It is all related. Every factor is important because it participated in the creation of the culture. So the answer to the question “what creates a culture? ” would probably be, EVERYTHING does. The creation of a culture is eternal and very complicated. A culture is not fixed, on the contrary – it is constantly changing, because of mixing races, nations, and religions. Modern countries are growing with every new day, so different cultures connect and they inevitably influence one another. Cristina De Rossi, an anthropologist said that the constant motion of the culture is exactly what makes it hard to define it.

As I already said, a culture is made by so many factors. Geography and culture are of course related, and the interaction among them is called human geography. The terrain and the climate dictate the way of clothing, sort of objects for living, and also types of food people eat daily.  Nature influences the culture in so many ways, so you really can’t avoid asking: In what way do we influence on nature? Does our culture or any other culture in this world ever do something positive for nature?

Maybe the most extreme modern author on the Earth, John Zerzan, is very critical about our influence on nature. And, if you try to read his studies and critics, I guess you would agree with him in so many ways. I did! He says that the primitivism is the best ground for environmentalism. Humans lived in harmony during millions of years with the environment. I will repeat: WITH the environment, not on the damage of the environment.

They had primitive lives, with some basic needs. And of course, it is not that anyone asks it to happen again, we never would be who we are today without religion and art – without culture. But it is true, life before the civilization was tightly related to nature, true wisdom of the senses, health and equality in a real way. They didn’t vote and they didn’t talk about rights: because they already had them. They were completely natural, naked and free in every possible way.

It could easily be claimed that culture, as an offspring of the nature, is turning against the nature. Much of our damage on the nature is facilitated with our existing cultures. Furthermore, culture now can easily be considred as commodity of consumption. Some of the dirtiest deeds of humanity are made possible through the culture. So we can’t really treat culture as a neutral aspect of life anymore.

What could we do to change this equation? We can`t destroy a culture, because, without it we would probably lose many of our social references. On the other hand, we can’t keep consuming cultural commodities as they don’t deliver what they are meant to. The sacred aspect of the culture has started to melt down long time ago. Our possible road map may not be clear as what to do, what to replace the culture with. But history tells us that whenver we as human beings have some pressing issues to deal with, certain solutions will emerge over the course of the action.

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