“We are nothing but bricks from our cultural moulds” ― Bangambiki Habyarimana, Book of Wisdom
Identity can be assumed as the state of being oneself. Identity is not what race we are born into or the colour of our skin it is, but an ever evolving reflection of what we were moulded into by our environmental conditions (our ideals, our experiences, our teachings,our traditions). Identity in today’s world, due to globalisation has numerous shaping factors as we are exposed not only to our teachings but the beliefs and lessons of others, which might resonate better with us. The centre for Advanced research on Language Acquisition defines culture as*Shared patterns of behaviors and interactions, cognitive constructs and understanding that are learnt by socialization.
Culture and traditions that a person believes, follows and practices go long way in moulding them to who they consider themselves to be. Our culture and traditions often colour the way we look at situations and how the world perceives us. Modern society is an amalgam of people belonging to different cultures, having different beliefs and the observance of disparate traditions. The cultural identity coupled with personal identity is what makes everyone unique and our society so diverse. However, it also is the very thing that brings people together, those with similar understanding tend to congregate. In addition to this, it makes people more tolerant and sensitive to one’s practices.
In order to illustrate how resolutely culture and traditions affect people in modern society, I will take few examples. A devout conservative Muslim living in a developed country, say United States of America- the face of modern society, boasting the largest group of diverse people, will still not eat pork (pig meat) as stated by the elders of the Muslim community in which they have grown up. On the other hand, another person belonging to the Muslim community may have grown up in a more liberal environment and as a result, eats pork. This example shows that people belonging to same religion, living in the same country may follow different practices as a result of the ideals they have been exposed to. This, thus, evinces that personal identity is strongly affected by the traditions followed.
Another example is, a girl of Indian origin, who belong to a conservative family is less likely to move out of her parents house, even when she joins the workforce until she gets married. On the other hand, a girl of Indian origin who belongs to liberal family is much more likely to move out of her familial home before marriage. Let us say both of them are equally qualified and able to take care of themselves. The only difference between the two, is the environment (traditions, ideals followed) they are living in and the practices followed in their household.
The above examples outlines the differences between people of the same religion or race who have different practices, thus exposed to different situations, resulting in them leading starkly different lives.
On a global scale, the effect of culture and traditions on identity make for a wholesome and three-dimensional society. Due to the increase in globalization, people will be exposed to new cultures, traditions and belief systems, giving people space to grow into their own. The world will also see gross advancements in all fields as people with different ideas and mindsets will associate and work together, thus, the results will be taking into consideration all perspectives. For example- during the presidency of the 44th president of the United States Diwali was declared a national holiday taking into mind the millions of citizens who are people of Indian heritage, moreover, this was also celebrated by the first family- this is an instance where a non Indian observed Indian culture.
On a national scale- the plethora of ideologies that arise from one’s cultural and personal identities result in progressive thought and widespread tolerance and respect for a different opinions. Cultural identity has a flipside, when people with intolerant or discriminative views have their own body, there is an adverse effect on those who are exposed to their toxic ideologies and this leads to an increase in the number of extremists groups and hate crime. Thus, destroying the peace of the country. For example; in The United States of America there is an epidemic of white supremacy left unchecked. This has lead to increased number of people who are exposed to their preachings and as a result there is an increased number of supporters for their cause. With the increased supporters, there is a rising trend of hate crimes against people of colour. As a result, the amity of the country is under attack.
On a personal level, culture and traditions are important shaping factors of oneself and implications of this means that everyone is unique and when we are exposed to a surfeit of identities we learn and constantly improve.
We draw our conclusions from the facts presented to us, we learn to interpret these facts based on our traditions and what we consider to be our culture. The day when all of us speak the same, think the same, believe the same is the day we as human beings have stopped growing. To grow we must embrace what makes us who we are.
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