Regarding culture

- Fr. Roy Cimagala -

We sometimes need to think big to see if the little, fine things are properly in place. We need to look far to see if items near us are in the right direction. Same with thinking abstract, to see if the concrete, tangible things are according to plan or design.

These are dimensions of our life and behavior, ignoring which unavoidably brings us to some trouble.

Among the big things we need to consider is culture. Yes, it’s kind of abstract and intangible, perhaps too invisible for us to derive any practical use from. But it’s actually like the air we breathe, the water we drink.

Culture is inevitable and necessary, and yet this combination of qualities makes it prone to be taken for granted. We have to be more aware of it to be able to have greater control and direction, in short, sense of responsibility for it.

Even the air we breathe now cannot anymore be ignored. We have to contend with relevant issues like pollution, etc. As to the water we drink, just consider the mushrooming purified water business, to drive home the point. We cannot sideline culture.

Culture is our collective quality of life. It is our abiding self-knowledge, the continuing accumulation and purification of our collective wisdom, the flowing consensus of our attitudes, mentalities and practical ways.

There’s a lot of varieties of elements involved, differences and even conflicts of views and positions, and yet there appears also to be a unifying element in it.

It’s so important in our life that we ought to exercise greater responsibility for it. Especially if we consider that it’s also a living thing, capable of growth and development as well as deterioration, decay and death.

Thus, when we speak of culture, we should not just think of our traditional dances, arts, historical items, etc. At best, these are only reflections, snapshots, rich or poor, of our living culture. They are important, but they don’t capture the essence of culture.

When we speak of culture, we have to enter into our collective soul which, in itself, is already a tremendous effort. No matter how daunting, we just have to do it. Anyway, we always have some ways and means for this purpose.

Some basic principles to follow are that culture is more spiritual than material, that it connotes a necessary linkage between what is internal and external in us, and among our thoughts, words and action.

Thus, it’s capital that we find regular ways of checking how this connection is maintained, adjusted, attuned and updated, as well as strengthened and enriched.

It also involves all of us, obviously in varying ways and degrees. Leaders and those in position of power and influence, like the media, should sharply feel their responsibility of shaping it as best as it can get, given the concrete conditions of our society. The rest of us should learn to follow and do our part.

As a living thing, it needs constant renewal, purification, and an increasing capability to grow and to cope with changing conditions. Though it can have a stable identify and character, it is and should never be rigid, inflexible and stuck to a certain place and time.

A very crucial element in it, one that I consider its life-giving germ and its integrating agent, is its attitude toward faith and religion. These provide us with our basic and abiding sense of values supposed to guide us, giving us meaning and direction to the different things in our life.

Thus, it is important to take care of our faith and religion, making it as strong and vibrant as possible. Problems surrounding this area should be duly attended to, using the proper means and always respecting the freedom of all.

In developing our culture, we should be constantly guided by certain absolute laws and ideals. Using them as criteria, we should have a running knowledge of our strengths and weaknesses, and see what practical strategies we can have as a nation to attain a good and rich culture.

Everyone should feel free to help and contribute in this collective endeavor. In fact, everyone should be generous in doing so, not counting the cost and only thinking of the good of our people, for the greater glory of God.

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