Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Decay of Culture

When we think of the word culture, we often associate it with the arts, with fine food, or with high society. To an anthropologist, culture means much more. To an anthropologist, culture is the ideals and beliefs that are passed from one generation to the next.

Which brings me to an illustration. My brother didn't allow his children to watch television when they were growing up. He had no television in his house. A lot of people (including me) thought that he was kind of strange to not allow his children to sample the culture around them.

As television and other media grew more and more crass and debasing, I learned to agree with my brother. My family also stopped watching television. (Note, we do have a television and use it to watch good movies and a few, select programs.)

I asked my brother one time about his strict views on television. Instead of answering me directly, he told me a story, which is my main point here.

One day, one of my brother's neighbors tattled on his youngest son, who was at a different neighbor's house watching television. My brother shrugged his shoulders and said, "so?"

Startled, the neighbor asked, "Aren't you worried that your son is watching television? I thought you didn't want your kids to watch TV."

My brother replied, "We don't have television at my house. That is the culture that I'm teaching my children. Whenever my son is confronted with certain ideas that I don't agree with, like watching television, he will know the difference between the culture in our home and the culture in the world."

And there is the problem facing Americans today. It's not that we lack a strong and moral culture to pass along to the next generation, it's that we fail to allow our children the opportunity to choose between the past culture and the present. This comes from the devastation of the breakdown of the family in the world. With rampant divorce, single parent homes, same sex couples, and "blended" families, Americans lack the very means to pass along the brilliant culture of America's past. Instead we allow television, video games, advertisements, and yes, morally bankrupt liberalism to raise our children. (Remember "it takes a village?")

This is really the great harm of redefining marriage and families to mean nearly any combination of people. Western society became great because its culture was passed along from one generation to the next through the strength of the traditional family. Broken homes and families were the exception, teaching children the value to relink with family and spouse to continue to preserve the foundations of society.

By the way, both my brother's and my children are better off and much happier, having spent their school years doing wonderful things, rather than vegetating in front of a television or a computer screen allowing popular culture to dictate their beliefs and ideals of the world. And yes, they can choose which culture brings them more happiness.