Urgent Evoke

A crash course in changing the world.

I tried to post this as a response to my 'Secret of Change Lies in Respecting Culture' post, but apparently the comments section didn't like my l-o-o-n-g answer-- so I've given it its own blog post:

Comment by Michael Jaggernauth:
what if the culture has a negative impact on the progress of the people as a wh***? What if that culture is the source of their problem, i.e.
the mindset they exist with. Please give me your views on this question,
it would be greatly appreciated. thanks.

A very good question, Michael, thank you! In my opinion, all cultures have some elements within them which hinder people in solving their problems - and other elements that facilitate problem solving. In fact, hindrance and facilitation are often two aspects of the very same thing.

For instance- one of the first things visitors tend to notice about Americans is our optimism. Often this is taken to be a good thing, and we tend to like that characteristic in ourselves. Optimism is a pleasant feeling, after all.

Except-- sometimes it leads us badly astray. Sometimes it encourages us to brush over hard problems that require deep thought. Sometimes it allows us to leap to quick and easy conclusions and ignore the way the threads of a problem are often so deeply intertwined with other things. And when things go really, badly wrong-- often because we have impatiently snipped through the wh*** cloth instead carefully examining the threads- optimism is the small demon sitting on our shoulders, whispering in our ear to just forget the wh*** thing-- sweep it under the rug-- pretend it never happened.

Used well, optimism is one of our great strengths-- used badly it is one of our greatest weaknesses. It's hard to see our own national characteristics clearly, since they have been with us since birth. And understanding another culture is even more difficult. I've spent many years in the Czech Republic, where people tend to be nearly as pessimistic as Americans are optimistic. Sometimes their insistence-- especially in the early days after the fall of Communism-- that a common service or practice elsewhere 'wasn't possible' here nearly drove me crazy. So much lost time and missed opportunity-- and yet this culture also supports some of the most creative and original thinkers and artists I've ever seen. And no one knows more about networking than the average middle-aged Czech-- who grew up under Communism and learned the 'little ways and paths' that allowed them have all the material comforts-- despite the fact that very little of value was for sale in the shops.

If you think about it it's really the same with individuals. I've learned a lot about dealing with other cultures through learning to deal with myself. I have a lot of 'bad' characteristics which I fought with myself over for many years. 'Flaws' which I tried hard to overcome. I never got anywhere and only succeeded in making myself miserable. Gradually I learned to accept them rather than fight them. Eventually I figured out what these 'flaws' were good for-- and then they became my best friends. I found most of my 'laziness' was just a dislike of being bored or being handed too easy a challenge. I found my stubbornness could, attached to the right subject, become persistence, and that being a 'dilettante' often allowed me to draw connections between very different fields-- connections that an expert in either of those fields would probably miss.

To draw this very long-winded answer to a close, I'd just say that we are all, as individuals and as cultures, the sources of our own problems-- and equally, we can all be the solutions. Everyone's different. A tiger doesn't need what a horse does and there's no sense in trying to treat them the same. We just have to take the time to discover what sort of animal we are dealing with-- and then give it the food it needs to thrive.

Views: 25

Comment by Gregorian Parser Hawke on March 28, 2010 at 11:28pm
Thank you for this, I love you answer.
Comment by Catherine Gentry on March 29, 2010 at 6:18pm
Seems to me you're becoming wh*** and acceptance of our weaknesses is part of that process. Kudos. It's a struggle isn't it? In light of your post, you might be interested in my post (Sophia Returns: World Water Day2020). I've been searching, for the last 25 years for the "root" causes of our global issues and it wasn't until I combined my eclectic interests of history, religion and economics with studying ancient energy systems that I had what I think is a break through.
Comment by Michael Jaggernauth on March 30, 2010 at 6:53pm
Thank you for that solid answer. I had no idea you could depict it so well. I am very impressed with the level of insight you have brought to my question, much thanks.I will remember this in the future.
Comment by Yumna Moosa on April 4, 2010 at 10:54am
The issue of 'respecting culture' has concerned me for a long time now. Thank you for the insight. It resonates...
Comment by PJE on April 4, 2010 at 5:47pm
Sarah Shaw Tatoun, this is so nicely balanced and insightful I feel slightly dizzy. Thank you.
Comment by Ursula Kochanowsky on April 9, 2010 at 4:07pm
Show me a strength and I will show you a weakness. Show me a weakness and I will show you a strength.
Its always fun thinking about fingertips in just the right spots exerting just the right pressures to lever the world.
Comment by Sarah Shaw Tatoun on April 22, 2010 at 10:38am
Thank you all for your comments, and particularly to Michael Jaggernauth for making me think more deeply about my original post.


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