Though many of us have become accustomed to seeing culture as an aggregate of an artistic and historical heritage, this is a rather broad term. According to Merriam Webster’s dictionary, culture can be defined as customary beliefs, social norms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group; the characteristic features of everyday existence (as diversions or a way of life) shared by people in a place or time (Merriam-Webster). In this meaning, western culture is experiencing a prolonged decay, despite its technological novelties, proclaimed tolerance, equality of opportunities, and constant striving to make everyday existence more safe and comfortable.
So why do we say that western culture is in a state of decay? In the past, English politician Edward Gibbon had suggested several criteria of the Roman decaying culture. Among them he listed: common concern about looking wealthy instead of being one; freakish art; and the widening disparity between the rich and the poor (Goodreads). Surprisingly, it seems that these criteria are suitable not only for ancient Romans, but for the western modern world as well. Let us take a closer look.
One of the main reasons for western culture’s decay is its focus on displaying wealth and creating images of it, instead of amassing material gain or being true to oneself. This problem is deeper than it may seem; it is not an innocent show-off. Mass media, public opinion, commercials, and product manufacturers teach western people to assess themselves and others by their possessions. If to simplify this thesis, it would not be a great exaggeration to say that a person with a yearly income of $40,000 is often considered less worthwhile than a person with a $100,000 income, though this is an unfair and erroneous way to treat people. This leads to a specific type of behavior. Instead of working on self-improvement and building up wealth and career, people seem to be more engrossed by the external signs of success and prosperity, even when they completely differ from the image they try to create. In order to be able to purchase “status signs,” which are often rather expensive, they get into debt and take loans, which creates a negative effect on the economy and spins the wheel of consumption even stronger.
According to recent research, the gap between the rich and the poor has widened. In 1967, those in the lowest percentile of American earners made a median salary of $9,300. By 2010, that was up to $11,900—a 28% increase (measured in 2010 dollars). The 90% of the richest Americans went from making a median of $85,800 in 1967 to $138,900, which made a 62% increase. Median income households saw real earnings go from $40,800 in 1967 to $49,400 (Face the Facts USA). This illustrates a phrase that “the richest become richer, the poorest become even poorer.”
If we look at modern art, which directly refers to the term of culture, we will see that its priorities have changed significantly, starting from the beginning of the 20th century. Today’s art is mostly flabbergasting; its main purpose is to shock the viewer, make them feel uncomfortable, embarrassed, anxious, or angry. This is often achieved by the heavy exploitation and amplification of sexual, violent, and religious scenes, and granting them a deep meaning. For example, Chris Ofili’s “Holy Virgin Mary” exhibited in the Brooklyn Museum in 1999, showing a black Madonna covered with animal feces, was described as “playing with the ideas of blasphemy and worship, race and religion, toying in a gently ironic way with the space between public outrage and private expression to make his own spiritual statement, which among other things is not original” (The New York Times). When an art product like this one appears once in a decade, it may be called a daring provocation, but when they become trendy, it may be considered a diagnosis for culture.
Western culture, full of contradictions and uncomfortable compromises, is slowly slipping out of balance. This can be seen by the increasing social inequality expressed in the widening gap between the rich and the poor; in art, most of which is completely unaesthetic; in people’s obsession by external signs of success, and not in real development, or in other words, in their obsession of the artificial. Social norms and customary beliefs, affected by these and many other factors, constantly transform to make their careers more adapted to socio-economic and cultural processes, which gradually runs out of control.
Gibbon, Edward. “Quotes about Cultural Decay.” Goodreads. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 July 2013. <http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/cultural-decay>.
Kimmelman, Michael. “CRITIC’S NOTEBOOK; A Madonna’s Many Meanings in the Art World.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 05 Oct. 1999. Web. 01 July 2013. <http://www.nytimes.com/1999/10/05/arts/critic-s-notebook-a-madonna-s-many-meanings-in-the-art-world.html>.
“Income Gap between Rich, Middle Class, and Poor Widens.” Face the Facts USA. N.p., 28 Mar. 2013. Web. 01 July 2013. <http://www.facethefactsusa.org/facts/income-gap-between-rich-middle-class-and-poor-widens/>.
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Do really our Culture is decaying?akanksha chaturvedi8:57 am
Jan 25 • Group Discussion • 16210 Views • 10 Comments on Do really our Culture is decaying?
Indian Culture is one of the ancient and firmly respected culture around the world. People from around the globe wants to see and live in our culture. And for this, they visit our country and spend days with the people of India. The beauty which the Indian Traditions and Cultures have is not found in any other place. Being the centre for the diversity in culture and existence of these varied culture in India revoke the liking in the hearts of people of other countries. But Even we are known for the diversity in our living and culture, which is the biggest treasure of India is really decaying. Let’s discuss this in detail about theIndian culture but first lets understand what is a culture and how can it be classified in India and also how our culture decaying-
A Group Discussion
DEFINITION OF CULTURE-
The wordcultureis that complex which includesknowledge, belief, art, law, morals, customs and any other capabilities and habits acquired by individual as a member of society. Culture of India refers to the dharma, beliefs, customs, tradition, languages, ceremonies, arts, values and the way of life of India and its people. India’s languages, religions, food, clothing differs from place to place within the country.
BASIC FOUNDATION OF INDIAN CULTURE:
Everything to get rigidity and long existence, need a strong foundation whether it be education, building or our culture itself. Some of the basic foundations of Indian Culture are as follows-
- RELIGIONS: India is the birthplace of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism collectively known as Indian religions. India is the country where people from diversified religions live together and follow the religion they respect.
- GREETINGS: Namaste is a common spoken greeting or salutation in which one hold hands together with a smile to express deep respect and give honour to other people.
- CUISINE: Indian food is as diverse as India. From salads to sauces, from spices to sensuous, from breads to desserts, Indian cuisine is invariably complex.
- CLOTHING: Traditional clothing in India greatly varies across different parts of the country and is influenced by local culture, geography, climate and rural/urban setting.
PRESENT SCENARIO OF THE INDIAN CULTURE-
Dalai Lama once said “Open your arms free, get ready to change with the world but do not Let go your values“. Most of us believe that today our culture is decaying but who set the culture, we the human beings right?
- Today crime against womenhave increased exponentially. Daily Newspapers are full of the news about the crime against women everyday which was never included in our culture.
- After 65 years of Independence people are still judge by their color tone and caste. This is what our culture never teach us.
- Initially there use to be joint families and people use to live together peacefully. Today there has been a trend of nuclear families where parents often end up living in old age homes . Our culture never allowed this callousness. We are known for happy lives of the Joint Families.
- In recent Delhi gang rape case the victim and her friend were lying naked and helpless on roads in that chilled night but still there was no one to help them and take them to hospital. Since when our society became that level of inhuman.
- Today Delhi and Mumbai are considered world’s most polluted cities. Our culture never taught us to disintegrate our land, water and air. Culture only taught us to worship nature as your mother.
People always go on blaming this that our culture is decaying because of the arising modern thoughts and effect of western culture. But Modernity does not depend on wearing jeans but it is in your thoughts and acceptance of new technologies. So, our culture is not decaying but the mentality of our citizens is deteriorating day by day. Western Culture cannot be blamed for the decaying value of culture as culture never taught us to live within boundaries and hide your faces. But it always motivates us to come in front and face the challenges of your life. Drive changes in the society and evil practices but not on the cost of your culture. There need to be a proper balance within the all things we have. If you loose one, it will leave us. At last i want to conclude by saying that-
“INSTEAD OF CONTINUOUSLY INCREASING OUR SOCIAL QUOTIENT WE SHOULD FOCUS ON INCREASING OUR EMOTIONAL QUOTIENT”
Please give your view about Indian Culture and let us know what you really think this is actually happening or not. Mention it in the comments.
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group discussion topicindian cultureIndian culture is decayingIndian Social IssuesWomen Empowerment
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