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.
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)