Cultures Can Rise and Fall

Cultures can rise and fall because we create culture and we have the power to change it, if there is enough support. Our culture is created through our society’s collective values and ideas, the majority becoming the culture. In order to make changes to it, the majority must come to some sort of mutual agreement on values and priorities. This may be harder to accomplish today compared to when humans were just beginning to group and cooperate in hunting and gathering societies. Back then, there was a mutual agreement that the priority was the survival of the community and growing the population. However, today’s priorities vary greatly from person to person as we have much more complex lives, which includes the concept of materialism and success as defined by wealth instead of simply surviving to see the next day with your offspring.

In Ray and Anderson’s book, they explain that worldview, and ultimately culture, changes occur through a change in values and priorities. However, they also explain this generally means that people who are actively trying to achieve this change must step out of the dominant culture in our society. This in turn causes them to be viewed negatively and as threats by those who believe in and follow to dominant culture. In order to achieve a positive change in the current worldview, a strong network of support is needed at all levels of our society, starting from large groups at the bottom and strong advocates and protectors at the top. This change may be happening with the rise of a new culture in our generation and new incoming generation, the Cultural Creatives. Their beliefs and values, as thoroughly explained by the authors, seem to follow along the basic lines of caring and respecting our environment as well as each other and moving away from the materialistic values and embracing our social connectivity. The Cultural Creatives also accept varying degrees of intensity so that there is a place for everyone from people who just wish to carry on in their day with their beliefs to daily activists fighting hard for change, which encourages diversity in their group and none to be shunned or looked down upon due to lack of activity.

I believe our society is already on the verge of shifting towards this new cultural perspective of the Creative Culture, such as recent women’s rights movements and marriage equality success, it will just take more time for our generation to rise up to the positions of power needed to influence hard written laws while the old culture steps down and retires. Current activists just have to continue moving forward with encouraging others to open up about their more positive and inclusive belief systems such as equality in race and gender, social connection over materialism, and optimism. Continue to teach the new upcoming generation about the very core values of caring for others and living with nature, not against or outside.

Book Source:

Ray, Paul H. and Anderson, Sherry Ruth, Who Are the Cultural Creatives?, Chapter 1 from The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World (2000)

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Police Repression?

This topic hits very close to home as I have an extensive law enforcement family, one of which works in a specialized air unit that utilizes some of the equipment the author points out without explaining their uses. When addressing issues of how the United States is governed one must remember that in a republican system it is the people who are sovereign. Power, while it can easily be perceived as being concentrated into the hands of the few, is ultimately in the hands of everyone, or at least the majority. Therefore, while the system may be broken, such as in the cases of money and corruption in politics like the Citizens United ruling and its consequences, and  just everyday lobbying, the power to change the system rests with the electorate. If real change is to be sought it must begin at the bottom. Leaders can be effective but must lead a movement of the people or else they are just dictating their views alone, a democratic leader must the the vessel of the people’s will.  From there, laws, regulations, and norms can be changed. We must also accept that sometimes the will of the majority does not align with the beliefs of the minority, that is the nature of the system. Desegregation was not a popular idea at the time but was forced upon the people in the national minority, the pendulum swings both ways.

Now, the Truthdig article definitely has its own points to make about the system and no one would argue that the events it covers are not regrettable and should be prevented in the future. However, no one could also argue that their views and complaints come from a fairly biased and one sided perspective. Some may go as far to say that the author is at times detached from reality. On their first point, the militarization of law enforcement. Police officers have the unenviable duty of potentially putting themselves in harm’s way on a daily basis. The author complains about the carrying of long rifles and armored vehicles but ignores the reason why, see the 1997 North Hollywood shootout. They even complain about the use of night vision and infrared technology to track people but conveniently forgets the equipment is more often used in search and rescue applications (see links below), in which the specialized air unit of the Sheriff’s department spend many hours training with. For example, the night vision equipment is used to search for hikers during night rescue missions and the officers follow extensive training annually and keep detailed records of who uses the tech and when. One would expect the author to shun the location and navigation features of their smartphone because it relies on military GPS technology and equipment.

The authors next complaint is that the less than lethal tool employed by law enforcement officers is also objectionable. That deterrents such as gas, bean bags, rubber bullets and even sound are unacceptable tools for police to do their job with. Either the author would like a return to police using billy clubs in close range that can easily break arms and legs or they would prefer rioters to simply be allowed to run amuck and do as they please. The later is counter to a democracy where, while peaceful protests are clearly allowed (just look at the various marches in the last few months) violence is not as it is not the will of the people to allow a small minority of a community to destroy the property of the rest of the community. Is it not then preferable, both for the rioters on the receiving end and to the law enforcement officers, who would both like to be able to go home to their families when the event is over and not suffer any injuries, to seek solutions that allow them to do their jobs at a distance to reduce their likelihood of injury and injury to the people.

Please remember that law enforcement officers have two roles to fill that naturally contradict each other and are difficult to balance: enforce the law and protect and serve their citizens. It is not their fault the laws they must enforce are not truly fair and equal. Do not let the media convince you that their intent is entirely violent and evil as those are the only stories the media will cover due to shock value and ratings. Who do you call when your property is stolen? Who do you call when your child goes missing? Who arrives first to respond to an accident? Who searches for you for hours using advanced military technology and aircraft when you decide to go off into the woods and get lost and hurt? I have provided additional links in the sources to remind everyone of the services law enforcement provides that are conveniently forgotten.

Sources:

Truthdig article on police repression

http://www.truthdig.com/report/page4/a_guide_to_police_repression_from_ferguson_to_baltimore_and_beyond_20150506

When California was hit by massive rain storms:

http://ktla.com/2016/12/16/at-least-1-trapped-in-rushing-water-of-san-gabriel-river-near-el-monte-rescue-attempt-underway/

Hikers:

http://ktla.com/2017/03/13/hiker-rescued-from-eaton-canyon-waterfall-area-after-falling-50-feet-lasd/

http://ktla.com/2017/02/25/female-hiker-dog-rescued-after-falling-800-feet-over-side-of-cliff-in-forest-above-altadena/

http://ktla.com/2017/02/04/at-least-3-seriously-hikers-injured-possibly-3-more-missing-after-falling-down-ice-chute-near-angeles-crest/