What is Culture and Why Does it Matter?

Recently, my good friends Adam Leipzig and Tod Hardin of Cultural Weekly asked me to contribute my thoughts to their new series, Culture: So What?!?

Each week, they will be asking thought-leaders from all walks of life to answer the question: What is Culture and Why Does it Matter? It was an honor to be their first guest. What a thought-provoking question! Here is what I had to say on this topic…

 What is Culture and Why Does it Matter?

Whether we are aware of it or not, ‘culture’ affects every aspect of our daily lives. From the language we speak, the books we read, to the visual arts, music, dance, and the food we create and enjoy. But even more profoundly, culture is what we do, think and feel.

As a noun, culture is described as the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively. Interestingly, culture as a verb means to maintain (tissue cells, bacteria, etc.) in conditions suitable for growth.

The idea of ‘culture’ was foremost in my mind when I decided to move our young family from the fast-paced lifestyle/culture of Southern California to a beautiful resort mountain town in Idaho.

After much consideration, I decided that the healthy mountain lifestyle had the culture and ‘conditions suitable for growth’ (for my young children). Although small in size, this mountain town is a microcosm of the big city, but without the rat race.

As an artistic family, we have benefited from the resort town’s interesting people, nationally recognized art galleries, along with top-drawer restaurants, the largest privately funded symphony in America, and a famous Writers’ Conference that brings together our generation’s finest writers.  Yet with all of that, my kids and I can easily escape from the ‘city life’ and into the serenity of the Rocky Mountains.

Our culture here enables us to understand and work effectively together.  It influences the manner in which we perceive the world and how we network within it. It is our collective experience as a society.

Sadly, in a world where Western culture is dominating and destroying indigenous cultures, cultural homogenization is on the rise. For example, one language dies every 14 days and by the next century nearly half of the world’s 7,000 languages will disappear in favor of English, Mandarin and Spanish.

Over the years, I have taught my children the importance of cultural diversity within our own community, country, and around the world. Nevertheless, human culture is subject to change, and should evolve away from discriminatory, inhumane, or environmentally damaging traditions. But the arts and crafts, religions, oral tales, histories, and cultural heritages of differing peoples should be preserved as a valued aspect of humanity. ~Lori McNee

*Cultural Weekly is a place to talk about our creative culture with passion, perspective and analysis – and more words than “thumbs up” or “thumbs down.”  Our mission is to draw attention to our cultural environment, illuminate it, and make it better through rich conversations.  We look at culture through the different lenses of media, money, technology and entertainment, always with prime focus on creativity in action. Cultural Weekly was founded and is published by author and producer Adam Leipzig.

You can also visit Cultural Weekly Radio and listen to my recorded live interview!

*****

Thank you for visiting FineArtTips.com. You can see my art on my website,  LoriMcNee.com, and let’s meet on Facebook  Fine Art Tips Facebook Fan Page, on Twitter, Google Plus and on PinterestBe sure and check out and my fine art prints and notecards on Fine Art America.! ~Lori

2014-07-11T08:46:14+00:00 November 25th, 2013|Fine Art Tips, General, Inspiration & Motivation|12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Brandon Schaefer November 26, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    Thanks for this post, Lori. Quite insightful 🙂 I definitely agree with everything you said here, very important points for humanity and society. Looking forward to future posts!

    • Lori McNee December 1, 2013 at 10:15 pm

      Hello Brandon! It’s great to see you stop by for a comment again. ‘Culture’ is quite the subject to condense down into a short blog post. Writing this really got me thinking about what is important to me.

  2. Harleena Singh November 28, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    Hi Lori,

    It’s good to be over at your blog too – such a lovely one indeed 🙂

    I’ve just been exploring your blog, seeing your paintings, and the videos too! Why? Because I love to paint, though haven’t done anything in years, but the desires always there. No, not a professional like you, but I love doing flowers, landscapes, and still life…just done a limited few, besides a little sketching.

    Coming to this wonderful post, it’s wonderful to see you featured in Cultural Weekly! I think I’d have taken the same decision to move to a quieter place, and the mountains are the perfect ones to get inspired to paint too!! I think culture is what we really make out of it and what all we can impart to our kid’s which I think you’re already doing so well. I wonder how you manage it all 🙂

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice weekend, and Happy Thanksgiving 🙂

    • Lori McNee December 1, 2013 at 10:42 pm

      Hello Harleena, what a nice surprise! I am a bit slow on comments because of our Thanksgiving holiday. Yes, it gets tough to juggle everything at times. But, it is all very rewarding.

      I didn’t know you loved to paint. It would be fun to see your work. You can post it on my FB page https://www.facebook.com/FineArtTips

      Thanks again for your comment. I love your blog too and look forward to reading more of your post. 🙂

  3. Chad November 30, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    I often hear of western culture but I am not sure what western culture is. When I look at countries defined as western all I see is diversity within them. Certainly I saw a lot of diversity when I was in America and collectively I felt America was different from Australia(which also has its diversity). Furthermore, I felt Australia and America had some commonalities with Japan (which had its diversity) and China (which had its diversity) as well as some differences.

    Culture is bound in history, symbolism, economic development, environment and language. It takes more than an episode of Seinfield broadcast around the globe or an internet conversation in English to change that. All over the world, change is occurring and there is a flow of ideas back and forth. For me that is not a bad thing.

    • Lori McNee December 1, 2013 at 10:29 pm

      Hi Chad, thanks for your insightful comment. Yes, ‘Western’ culture paints a broad stroke. But, your comment even points out the very fact that our collective society is gradually homogenizing. With that said, I do not profess to be an expert on this subject at all. I will leave that to the Sociologists. However, I did enjoy reflecting on ‘what culture means to me’. Obviously, it is a complex and debatable topic. As the world grows smaller due to the advancement of technology and travel, I believe the idea of ‘change’ is a two edged sword.

  4. Adam Leipzig December 2, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    I am really enjoying these wonderful comments and responses. Harleena, I very much agree with you about the natural world. so much of our lives today are removed from nature; but when you think about it, all great artists, sages and spiritual leaders have gone to nature for inspiration. It is such an important connective tissue in our lives.

    Chad, “culture” truly is a broad word, and I have actually stopped using terms like Western culture or Eastern culture because they are so broad they don’t carry much meaning. I now define Culture as ‘the create decisions we make and share.” What do you think?

    • Lori McNee December 2, 2013 at 5:05 pm

      Adam! It is so great to see you here in the comment thread. Thanks again for inviting me to share my thoughts on ‘culture’ with your readers. I have learned from this experience and plan to join you and Chad on stopping the use of the term ‘Western/Eastern’ culture. I hope you enjoyed your own Thanksgiving ‘culture’ in your home last weekend. 🙂

  5. Peter Kiidumae December 2, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    Lori, you are contradicting yourself when you say human culture should evolve away from discriminatory and inhumane traditions, but then you list religions as one of the traditions that should be preserved. All the terrorist lunacy we are currently experiencing in the world today, virtually all the wars presently causing unimaginable suffering, most hatred, intolerance, and inhumanity stems from religions and those seeking to preserve their own religious traditions. The sooner the world is rid of all religions, the sooner culture can really blossom.

    • Lori McNee January 20, 2014 at 12:47 am

      Well Peter, it might seem that I did. ‘Culture’ is such a huge, complex, thought provoking topic and it is not an easy one to tackle. I do know that ‘religion’ has caused the majority of wars throughout history. Yet, spirituality, a reverence for humanity, and a belief in a higher power are what keep us compassionate and tolerant of each other. That is the part of religion that I would like preserved. 🙂

  6. Peter Kiidumae December 8, 2013 at 12:32 am

    One of the first items on the news tonight was about another brutal war between Muslims and Christians in some African country. Just one more example of the hatred, intolerance and inhumanity triggered by people determined to hold onto the culture of their religions. Almost every war underway today is a direct result of religious differences and I consider it both pathetic and gutless of you to delete my earlier comment regarding this undeniable fact that preserving the culture of religions is one of the worst things we can do.

    • Lori McNee January 20, 2014 at 12:22 am

      I totally agree with you Peter. Religion has created most of the wars. I don’t really even like to watch the news anymore! Thanks for adding your thoughtful comment.

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