Cultural Influences vs Autonomy

A few weeks ago I wrote about Cultural Influences.  The idea is that people turn to their cultures to answer five questions that deal with values.  After letting this idea (and the questions) simmer in my mind, I think the premise is true only if people have not taken the time to question those cultural values.  We turn to our culture for the “default” answers.   A friend, Teresa, already wrote about this.  Here are my thoughts:

What is basic human nature? So much plays into answering this one.  We now know that not only are you affected by your life immediately after birth, but even by your life in utero.  We are not created in a vacuum.  Besides genetics, there are racial and even past life memories.  So, take ALL that away, and what do you have?

  • Will to survive.
  • Curiosity
  • Awareness of the spiritual
  • Desire for relationship

What is the relationship of human kind to nature? We are a part of nature.  I believe everything originated in the Big Bang, and I choose to think of that as Divinity creating the universe by exploding.  That means Divinity is in me, in trees, in fish, in clouds, in stones — everything.  Humans do a lot to shape their world, and tell stories about it.  But it is our responsibility to do no harm.  I believe nature is willing to work with us, as long as we respect the need for balance.  I believe nature existed long before humans, and will continue to exist long after we are extinct.

How should we perceive our relationship to time? We live primarily in a straight line, birth to death.  BUT, I see time as a human construct.  What we think of as time is like a big pool, with 5000 BC as available as 2010 or 5766 AD.  Our limited sensory ability keeps us from accessing other moments as easily as the one we are in.

What is the value placed on activity? I am reminded of a comment: “I am very active on a molecular level.”  🙂  I was raised to always be doing something useful.  But I am now sure day-dreaming is useful.  So is thinking about the day ahead or the day you are finishing, and/or emptying your mind completely.  (Maybe so you can hear Spirit?)  To be alive is to be active.  I think even in spirit we are always active.  Work and play both have value, and may be the same thing.

What should be the relationship of people to each other? As mentioned above, I believe humans have a desire for relationship.  BUT, I think the key word in the question here is “should.”  That implies an external authority telling us what we “should” be doing.  Albert Ellis popularized, “stop shoulding on yourself.”  I believe the relationship of people to each other is a cultural construct, and that eventually we have to decide what we want in our own life.  (See my blog entry Labeling/Being a Bridge.)  I seek a balance between autonomy and community.  Each makes the other possible.

Thinking about these questions has been interesting.  🙂  I challenge you to think about how you would answer these five questions.


About judithornot

Lives in semi-rural Northern California, happily married, retired counselor, night person, knits, plays WoW.
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