Culture--CRADLE OR PRISON? Part #1
The Longing to Belong
May 21, 2019, September 27 & March 27, 2007
Here’s the conundrum. When is a culture supporting you, and when is it holding you hostage?
Have you ever really considered what your culture is, and what is does or doesn’t do for you? As I see it, “Culture” is that nameless mass of attitudes, judgments, values, and instructions for life that somehow osmose in through our pores without ever understanding how we arrived with this huge load of a specific architecture for seeing the world and creating ourselves fit in. Culture appears to be a totally pervasive formational structure for molding interpersonal relationships with others of the same “culture,” as well as forming ourselves as participants in it—whether we conform to it, or we rebel against it.
And a culture seems to be a huge communal identity that is based on a whole set of “norms”—acceptable and encouraged behavior, along with non-acceptable or taboo behavior, plus a whole set of operational rules. A culture constantly evolves, as does its language and concepts. Consider the way we Americans are accepting not only full nudity on TV these days, but I saw two full sex acts within 20 minutes at 8:30 PM the other night on the Sundance Channel. What a contrast with “I Love Lucy’s” twin beds of the 1950s! On the other hand, we may be becoming more compassionate and truthful, such as not accepting or hiding domestic violence as was done in the 1950s.
Now I can only laugh at myself for knocking up so hard against the Indian culture of having NO personal space! They don’t line up at all or respect MY place “in line,” because there is no line. They all jam together, moving sort of like a massive school of fish. And they smush their way to the front if they want, which is fully acceptable unless, of course you are evidently of a lower class. That covers how traffic works as well—forget red lights and lines down the middle of the street.
When my friend and I went for Lungar—the freely given meals at the Golden Temple, we went to wait in front of a small door. A bulge of incarnate souls mushroomed around us. When that little door opened, suddenly we were mushed together as one big undulating pile of silly putty, extruding through that little opening until we each popped free, laughing and breathing again on the other side!
These are just tiny little differences that I am using to help you get to thinking about what a call to homogeneity (making all the same) a culture demands. If someone doesn’t live by the rules of their culture, by definition, they become an outcast. They lose the privileges of belonging—others of that culture don’t want to participate with them, they may be activity ostracized, they lose methods and rights to survive and flourish, and they lose a huge chunk of their identity. For instance, even though Galileo found the simple truth that the Earth rotates around the sun, the progenitor of culture of that time, the Church excommunicated him (really big deal then), banishing him to hell, and they tried to wipe him clean from interaction with the individuals, institutions and society of the times, as well as from the records of European culture.
It is so difficult (or how about impossible?) to live without the comforts, support, benefits and protections of participating in and identifying with our culture’s social flow—family relationships, friends, economic exchanges (trade, income, etc.), music, clothing styles, encouragement, “proper” restrictions for protection, recognition of oneself as an accepted person on this planet, the satisfaction of “belonging” by being a member of a larger group, participating in acceptable, admired goals and measures of success, and on and on. We are totally wired to be these integrated social beings! Yogi Bhajan called this simply the “Longing to Belong.”
On the other hand, threat of excommunication from all this becomes an extremely violent threat. Tyrants of all ilks often used this threat to keep their members towing the line. Look how Hitler defined and enforced adherence to his fabricated Aryan concept-culture by contrasting it to the extreme with those who didn’t fit his model—causing rock rigid loyalty to the head of the culture and its tenets on one side, and extermination on the other side. You might recognize some of these methods, somewhat toned-down operating in the cliques of your old high school, or perhaps in your current office environment, or maybe in our national government—although it seems that that mess is becoming way-exposed nowadays!
And of course, there are dominant cultures—for instance, being “American,” along with subcultures, such as: “New Yorkers,” “Cowboys fans,” “Baptists,” “Smiths,” “Greens,” “Latinos,” “runners” —unending! Each has their own conditions for belonging, ways of seeing themselves, bonding, benefits, shared ideals of what is good, with taboos, expulsion procedures, rituals, methods of communication, social structures, operational rules, etc. Certainly, in the US, we have a tremendous smorgasbord of subcultures that we can choose from, and we normally participate in an amazing mixture simultaneously!
Whew! That was a lot! School will be out soon!
But the reason that I bring this whole jumble up is that I find that many of those who spend some time on my healing table or on the phone suffer greatly from non-recognition by the “Culture” that rules the conceptual framework of their families (especially in their formative childhood years), friends, schools, business associates—basically everyone they know! These are amazingly extraordinary spiritual beings who face a blank, non-operative space when trying to identify with their Unlimited Souls that are “dying” to express themselves in great and original ways, if only these folks could fully recognize, affirm, and be mirrored their Real Selves!
For instance, has anybody out there ever feared being locked away in a loony bin if it were known that you commune with great spirits? The obvious option is to hide the truth so as not to deviate from the culture’s rules, and so avoid their consequences. So, for our mutual support and discovery of our True Identity— full realization of ourselves as our Unlimited Souls, wouldn’t it serve us well to choose a culture whose ideals and rules promote that? Thank God now, in this time in history, and generally in our governmental dominions, we can finally take advantage of this great privilege of Conscious Choice that arises from our depths! We are the recipients of hard-won evolution!
And now it is our turn to participate in, reap the benefits of, and contribute to this great evolutional machine— creating a culture that REALLY supports us, and allows us to bloom brilliantly in the pure Light—the Real Us, that is! And we can do it together, as opposed to being isolated in a culture that doesn’t recognize the first basic Truth about us—that is, our Souls are God, and we can support each other to feely live openly and expansively in that amazing awareness!
Just keep that great identity, and we will definitely find each other, coming out of the dark and into the Light together to form the Culture of the Soul. Stay True, Dear One!