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Culture Creates Choices

Two questions were asked in a city in mainland China by the Chinese University of Hong Kong-

“Do you want to be raised or live in a corrupt society?”


But when asked:

“Would you pay a small sum of money to a doctor if he or she gave you or your family preferential treatment?”

“Yes. People in China do it all the time. If one does not pay the doctor, we will suffer, and someone else will get good medicine.”

The irony is completely lost on them.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Little did the child know that the villagers already determined the shape of their brains before they were even born. A Villages core values mark the members of the tribe according to the sense of self or communal unit.

In between painting bouts I have been reading these books all summer. The first two books are my favorite, but I think they are a nice fiction story of change, culture ideas, and how you grow up can effect your life.

The possibility for variety within the Villages culture is endless. However, there seems to be a stereotypical two, which most subset identifiable culture categories which most cultures fall. The first is more community as a whole minded, and the second is independent and self-focused. The self-focused village will revere independence and are typically capitalist. The unit minded villager will be interdependent and put more stalk in sacred values. Both kinds of thinking will change this child’s brain activity. This, in turn, will determine the choices that the child will think are actual options for the duration of their life.

We can even see this in the kinds of art made around the world. How we teach our children to draw or how we perceive things as simple as how we view the facts of a picture. Is it a shape that has form? Or a line that carries the artists artistic reasons for making the picture?

Example you ask?

Ask a Western raised mind set person and a Eastern mind set person to draw a face. The Western mindset person will nearly always draw the outlines, that is the outer lines of the face their drawing. Constantly emphasising the fact that solid individual things live in a space.

But Eastern mindset person will always be more focused on the essence of the thing, or the gestural quality of the person in their drawing more so then the actual likeness. They look more the overall picture, not its individual parts.

According to the University of Michigan brain, scans of interdependent cultural groups have

“Lessing activity in areas of the brain associated with utilitarian reasoning in favour of rapid rule-bound resources.”

These groups tend to value taking care of the elderly and live in multiple generational homes. Their children have a better sharing ethic and are willing to wait more prolonged periods for better rewards than children raised in homes where free choice and individuality are praised.

Nevertheless, there are benefits from living in independent cultural households that collective societies miss out on, like a willingness to take risks, consider opposite viewpoints more openly. These culture groups bring up their children to be more inclusive to outsiders and focus more on nuclear families. They are more likely to marry for love, but these Villagers are also more willing to divorce. Their relationships are not as intense. Independent value cultures also suffer from higher mental and psychological issues than the collective group village mindset.

You can find Kavita’s Travelling Home essay in Dreams and Inward Journeys.
Just click on the book and it will send you on to a place where you can get your own copy of the book. Enjoy!

Thus is at the crux of Kavita’s Travelling Home essay. When reading it, one is often reminded of the childhood story The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Stephen Carpenter. On the other side, the grass is always greener—one culture steeped in interdependence tries to shake off its shackles and become more accessible and take more risks. Whare, as the independent self-focused west, wanted deeper relationships and connections to spiritual values.

There is no time when someone hands one a situation that does not have both good and bad consequences. I believe Kavita was born in an interdependent culture and idealised that cultures good points because she was living for the majority of her adult life in an independent self-focused western culture. Craving one former circumstances are natural, but it is unrealistic to expect it to stay the same.

I think we are all capable of great change, if we want it enough. We can become someone else, especially if we are willing to rebel against some of the cultural norms, and comply with others. I think that's how we survive, choosing which parts of social conforms we will keep and what we don't want to allow to live within our culture anymore. Art is how we tell the story of our culture, and how it changes from one generation to the next. Art documents the kinds of choices we feel are acceptable, and sometimes more often, the things that are more taboo.

I am just about to dive in to school again. (The summer is over and I don't know what happened. It feels like it evaporated through my fingers.) This summer I have been reading a lot about cultures. Probably because I live in one place, I grew up in another, and I am choosing between the two lifestyles all the time. I have been thinking about how where you grow up revels much about the choices you think are available to yourself.

This semester I am diving into new territory, taking phycology classes and digital art courses. Two things I am uncomfortable speaking about and or refused to allow into my life for a long time. Until now that is. Anyway, I guess I am thinking about what kind of things people or ideas I want to cultivate into my life, and hence into my art. Its deep thought process. I am not entirely sure I know how I feel about taking these courses or changing my cultural ideas. But nothing worthy comes to one without choice of change.

Here is to the unexpected. May you embrace the best of your culture, and change the rest!

All the best,

JCML Fine Art


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