Saturday, August 18, 2012

Defending culture

Culture is a wonderful part of life. Unfortunately it is also one of the main sources of violent conflict. Even from one generation to the next, culture will evolve, which will cause societal friction. Yet there are a few grounding elements to every culture that permeate throughout all facets of life. I recall the sadness I felt when I could not smile for my passport photo. Although I have known others that got away with a slight smirk. It is very interesting how culture impacts every part of life, even in the world of economics.
Money has no culture yet how we obtain money does. Being Canadian I have come up against many people telling me that Canadians should change how we do business. We are not aggressive enough or we do not sing our praises loudly or often enough. The culture we have developed is one that exalts the humble person. I do not know why we have developed this way but it is an identity/culture that is trusted, revered and yet constantly pushed to change.
These past few weeks, as I have been working with others in emerging markets, the Canadian culture is always a factor. The comparisons I have heard in relation to other cultures often highlight differences in a better/worse frame of understanding. These comparisons had started to really bother me because the ideology behind them were rooted in making Canadians more like someone else. The whole reason Canada exists is because there was no other country that we thought was worth joining so, we forged our own path.
Ever since I started to travel, the image people have of Canadians has not changed much. We are the polite ones, honest brokers, humble, quite, easy going people and the best part is, when there is serious work we are there to help. Here we are, unique in a world that has few trusting governments or businesses. However, this culture is bombarded with aggressive chatter seeking to change it.
We are being told to wear the flag, speak out, demand recognition and push for more on the basis of our good image. How long do you think that good image will last if we bow to such pressures? Our character of being humble has the solid reputation of honesty, integrity and a caring society. Sadly I am noticing the death of that culture as we project our image through symbols and imagery. More and more I hear people asking with a questionable tone if this or that person is Canadian. A few short years ago the same inquiry was heard with more certainty. Canadians were noticed because of our actions not through some shallow, boisterous propaganda.
Canada has a deep, rich, trusted culture. Canada has a culture that can endure if the people today have the courage, character and wisdom to embrace it and stave off the perils of overt patriotism. Wearing a flag and telling everyone you are Canadian is a cultural oxymoron for a Canadian. Let others know you are Canadian through your actions of being polite, courteous, intelligent, welcoming, understanding, caring, tolerant and hard workers. Lastly there is one more component to our culture and that rests with our ability to defend. If need be, Canadians have a reputation for being the most unwanted opponent.
Cultural diversity is a wonderful part of life. They are social groupings for the entire world to grasp a knowledge of eachother. Just like we have a wide variety of friends. Some of those friends just piss you off more often yet underneath is a trusting bond that you defend. I really enjoy all the different cultures of the world. More so, I feel a great sense of appreciation when I am confronted with the realxed joy of someone saying, You must be the Canadian.

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