When people tell me to ‘respect’ my ‘cultural roots’ and say that I’ve got to ‘protect’ the very culture in which I have originated from; Central Asia comes to my mind. Yes. Central Asia.
Tracing back my linguistic ‘roots’ all the way to my earliest ancestors, would take me back to the BMAC complex in Central Asia, east of the Ural Mountains. So maybe by this logic I need to give back what I have owed to Central Asia then? Or rather by this compulsion, I am bound to protect the BMAC culture before the Nepali one? Wait. Wait.
Digging back my roots further into pre-history, my ancestors come from the sub-Saharan plains in Africa. Then maybe I should give back something to Africa before Central Asia and Nepal then? Maybe I should teach my kids by force to draw good cave paintings instead? Tricky!
Wait. Hold on. Digging back into my roots further, there was no Africa or Asia. There were no humans, but early upright apes, our common ancestors with modern day apes. There was a super-massive land mass with no continents. So where do I technically originate from? Well at this point my origins are rather obscure and so is indeed very confusing!
Coming back to reality, the whole point behind this post of mine is that there is no compulsion whatsoever for anyone of us to ‘respect’ our cultural roots. Culture is surely important, but it is always in a state of flux and is always malleable, like clay. We assign our own values to our lives, and we share those values with others around us, making our whole inherited social structure into a culture of some kind. But not all of us always share the same values.
From nature worshiping to celebrating Dashain and New-Years to attending Heavy-metal concerts to sharing memes on the internet. These are all human cultures. And no matter how much we protect it or try to protect it, it will always change. In a nutshell, this is why the Dashain celebrated by your ancestors are so very different from the Dashain celebrated by you and this is exactly why your great-great-great-grandchildren will celebrate it differently, or maybe even not at all.
For us to be able to respect our ‘roots’, where and how can we draw a line in the vast expanse of the geographic time scale, in which we Humans are relatively new and relatively puny? This is unclear. How far should we go in order to ‘protect’ our culture? Is culture more important than other human lives? Or do we need to protect specific cultures at the cost of some lives?
So I think for me it is important for us to enjoy our one life wherever we are, in whatever way we want to, without adversely affecting others and the environment that we share with them. There is no compulsion whatsoever. Those who want to protect their culture may well do so, those who want to change their culture, or those who want to adopt a different one may well do so too.
So let’s just think deeper, the next time we impose it unto anyone that they need to ‘protect’ or ‘respect’ their culture. Culture, is just an idea. And it is not good for any idea to be above scrutiny, and definitely not good for any human life to be below dignity!