Stepping outside of the Box…Defining the line between race and culture.

Stepping outside of the Box

Defining the line between race and culture.

 I often hear in discussion people often get confused about culture and race or try to lump them together in the same class.  Where race is the defining of a group of people based on physical characteristics and attributes.  Where culture is founded on belief systems, traditions, values, and morals.   So where a lot of people get confused is that they try to lump together a particular race with a set culture.  Like all Buddhists are Asian, or all Hindus are of Indian descent etc.  This is the furthest thing from the truth, wherein fact in today’s society you can be of any race and subscribe to any culture.  Vice versa you can be of any culture and belong to any race.

In the past where the world was steeped in tradition this confusion would not have existed due to the strict adherence to customs.  Which brings me to the next discussion what purpose does culture play in society.  If we understand that race is based on physical characteristics and attributes, we understand that is immutable.  This is humanity’s way of defining and categorizing his environment providing organization and structure.

Culture however is different altogether.  What are the origins of culture? What purpose does it serve?  Cultures are further analyzed by, geographical regions, and environmental factors.  For instance the Nomads of the desert, roam to find resources, in an environment that has few.  After further investigation we discover that environmental, factors, habits, mannerisms, traditions, beliefs, and values have a great influence in shaping and coalescence, into what we call culture.  Cultures form over long periods of time, through continual indoctrination of the groups ideology, values and beliefs systems passed down from generation to generation.  These are ultimately embodied in what we call traditions.

Culture is what gives Identity to a people, or a nation.  When people have been stripped of their identity they are without a foundation, and confused to who they are and where they fit into a society.  They are easily led astray along with their interests held at bay, they present not a threat nor can they be taken seriously.  What are the symptoms of a people without an identity?  They are absent of any leadership because they lack unity to agree on leadership.  They lack respect of themselves because they have no knowledge of their true history.  Because they lack knowledge of themselves they lack culture, the foundation of a people’s pride, their morals and values.

 I present a simple riddle, In all of civilization can you think of any present group of people who fit this description?

A History of Syria

http://youtu.be/TqtCOxeGAHE

In order to understand what is occurring in Syria present day, start with the past and lead up to the present. You will get a clearer perspective of the conflict and all that it entails yet not readily revealed. As the stage is set and the lines are being drawn as with any great play there must be an antagonist who crosses the line. Before the curtain is drawn there must be a grand finale, but they know not what they do for they are leading down a path of no return.

Man is quite the enigma, how far have you advanced and yet so eager to return back to the dust from whence you came. With power comes much responsibility, as we observe from afar it would appear that Humanity has again reached its
pinnacle, unable to reason amongst one another, rather its solution is the destruction of itself. Truly an epic fail!

Wisdom from Early Japan on Learning / Join me as we explore the Japanese Culture of the Samurai!

Learning

We learn about the sayings and deeds of the men of old in order to entrust ourselves to entrust ourselves to their wisdom and prevent selfishness. When we throw off our own bias, follow the sayings of the ancients, and confer with other people, matters should go well and without mishap. Lord [Nabeshima] Katsushige borrowed from the wisdom of Lord Naoshige. This is mentioned in the Ohanashikikigaki. We should be grateful for his concern.
Moreover, there was a certain man who engaged a number of his younger brothers as retainers, and whenever he visited Edo or the Kamigata area, he would have them accompany him. As he consulted with them everyday on both private and public matters, it is said that he was without mishap.

Yamamoto Tsunetomo7

…all samurai ought certainly apply themselves to [the study of military science]. But a bad use can be made of this study to puff oneself up and disparage one’s colleagues by a lot of high-flown but incorrect arguments that only mislead the young and spoil their spirit. For this kind gives forth a wordy discourse that may appear to be correct and proper enough, but actually he is striving for effect and thinking only of his own advantage, so the result is the deterioration of his character and the loss of the real samurai spirit. This is a fault arising from a superficial study of the subject, so those who begin it should never be satisfied to go only halfway but persevere until they understand all the secrets and only then return to their former simplicity and live a quiet life.
There is an old saying that bean sauce that smells of bean sauce is no good and so it is with the military pedants.

Daidoji Yuzan8

Learning is to a man as the leaves and branches are to a tree, and it can be said that he should not be without it. Learning is not only reading books, however, but is rather something that we study to integrate with our own way of life.
One who is born into the house of a warrior, regardless of his rank or class, first aquaints himself with a man of military feats and achievements in loyalty, and, in listening to just one of his dictums each day, will in a month know 30 precepts. Needless to say, if in a year he learns 300 precepts, at the end of that time he will be much the better.
Thus, a man can divide his mind into three parts: he should throw out those thoughts that are evil, take up those ideas that are good, and become intimate with his own wisdom… I would honor and call wise the man who penetrates this principle, though he lacks the knowledge of a single Chinese character. As for those who are learned in other matters, I would avoid them regardless of how deep their knowledge might be. That is how shallow and untalented this monk is.

Takeda Shingen (1521-1573)9

When a man in the beginning of his life is ignorant of everything, he has no scruples, finds no obstacles, no inhibitions. But after a while he starts to learn, and becomes timid, cautious, and begins to feel something choking in his mind, which prevents him from going ahead as he used to before he had any learning. Learning is needed, but the point is not to become its slave. You must be its master, so that you can use it when you want it.

Yagyu Munemori (1571-1646) (as interpreted by D. T. Suzuki)10excerpt Learning taken from: http://www.samurai-archives.com/cultcat.htmlImagepicture by Tung Luong

Gil Scott Heron Peace Go with You…

Gil Scott-Heron, “Peace Go with You, Brother”[youtube=http://youtu.be/U9woebI-td4]

 

Now, more than ever, all the brethren must be together
Every brother, everywhere, feels the time is in the air
Time and blood flows through common veins
And in the common eyes all see the same
Now, more than ever, all the family must be together
Peace go with you, brother
Though I ain’t so proud anymore
Peace go with you, brother
Recognition don’t come cheap anymore
You my lawyer, you my doctor, yeah
But somehow you forgot about me
And now, now when I see you
All I can say is, peace
Peace go with you, brother

—Gil Scott-Heron, “Peace Go with You, Brother”