Culture as a weapon in inter-tribal war (1)

We are one

Culture, at its simplest level, is little more than the ways we do things in life, and the underlying beliefs and values which support these ways. Yet, it is a complex of behaviours, with origins, influences, and impacts which are manifold and inter-linked.

Each human baby is born with a unique genetic structure and potential. That may not be all. Hindu philosophy says that, at birth, the baby inherits a soul. The soul is believed to be an ongoing entity, being reincarnated (ie. reborn) again and again, acquiring increasing knowledge and, hopefully, some cosmic merit. Each new-born baby will, according to this philosophy, carry traces of its past lives, thus affecting its responses to events and experiences in the future.

Even without any input from an imputed soul-entity, the baby will certainly bring into the world of human existence an inheritance of a shared capacity and potential for responding to stimuli of all kinds during its life. This innate ability reflects the evolution of the human brain over a long period of time, and seems to be structured and located as neural circuits linking components of the modern brain. This generalised human ability should have no regard for the trivial surface differences which can separate human beings – such as skin colour, facial features, speech, and so on.

We are so much alike that babies everywhere, like sparrows and chickens or kittens and pups, make the same sounds, and respond alike, instinctively, to comparable stimuli all over the  world. Inherited genetic differences, including some personality traits from grandparents, will of course serve to distinguish one child from another – sometimes significantly. Such differences, however, can be seen to be generalised over all human populations, whether Chinese, Maori, European, and so on. For example, an aggressive personality is the same in diverse cultures.

Each culture seeks uniform behaviour from its constituent members. That part of the acculturation process which is involved with the upbringing of its youth to ensure correct to acceptable behaviour, both inside and outside each family and tribe, will produce similar behaviour globally. For, good conduct is, by and large, uniform across cultures; it has to be, has it not, having regard to the shared evolutionary process? Such behaviours cannot surely be described as what constitutes culture as normally defined.

The above paragraphs represent half of an article by the author published in 2012 in Refer part(2) of ’Culture as a weapon in inter-tribal wars’ for the author’s analysis of the fragmentation of humanity through culture.

In his books ‘The Karma of Culture’ and ‘Hidden Footprints of Unity’, Raja Arasa Ratnam analyses the nature of ethnic culture, the interplay of immigrant cultures with one another, and with that of the host people, and his ultimate hope of unity achieved from a prevailing ethno-cultural diversity.