Culture as a Reality

20 Practical Steps Towards a Cultural Age with D. Paul Schafer, author of The World as Culture

D. Paul Schafer is the Founder and Director of the World Culture Project in Markham, Canada, who has worked in the cultural field for more than five decades as an educator, advisor, administrator, and researcher, as well as the author of multiple books including, Culture: Beacon of the FutureThe Age of CultureThe Arts: Gateway to a Fulfilling Life and Cultural Age, and his new, The World as Culture: Cultivation of the Soul to the Cosmic Whole.

In his thought-provoking The World as Culture, Schafer makes the case for what he calls the world as culture — a world in which culture is the central organizing principle of human civilization.

For the past two and a half centuries, we have lived in a world in which economics and economic principles reign supreme. Although the world of economics is likely humanity’s greatest achievement, Schafer argues that economics and its associated modes of thought is incapable of coming to grips with the enormous problems we face today. Humanity must move toward the world as culture, a world in which cultural modes of knowing and doing play a central role.

Schafer considers the various manifestations of culture that have evolved over the centuries, painting a fascinating panorama unique to this book. Those manifestations include culture as cultivation of the soul, which originated with Roman statesman and scholar Marcus Cicero; culture as the arts, the humanities, and the heritage of history; culture in the context of personality development; the anthropological and sociological manifestations of culture; and, most recently, ecological, biological, and cosmological conceptions of culture.

Culture’s embrace of holism, its attention to the total pattern of human life, and its incorporation of artistic and humanistic modes of thought make it the ideal organizing principle for a brighter and more sustainable future. Schafer concludes by considering how the world as culture might be brought into existence in the years ahead.

D. Paul Schafer – The World as Culture

On World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, IMAGINE launches a Special Feature of our 150 Days of Imagination campaign with D. Paul Schafer’s Culture as a Reality, an exciting 20 Week Conversation that continues the dialog started with Imagining to Living in a Cultural Age, Paul’s essay from our inaugural issue. Presented every Saturday through October 8th, Culture as a Reality gives IMAGINE readers an opportunity to engage with Paul and his ideas, along with a chance to win a copy of his new book, The World as Culture.

So please welcome and enjoy, D. Paul Schafer’s Culture as a Reality!

IN THE INAUGURAL ISSUE OF IMAGINE, I put forth in the essay From Imagining to Living in a Cultural Age that in the context of The Cultural Imagination, we may “Imagine the World from a Cultural Perspective.” In it I discussed how I have been imagining what it would be like to live in a cultural age since I was very young and how I finally got my thoughts on this matter down on paper in the 1975 articles – ‘Towards a New World Order: The Age of Culture’ and ‘The Age of Culture: Prospects and Implications – published by UNESCO, and later in my books Revolution or Renaissance: Making the Transition from an Economic Age to a Cultural Age and The Age of Culture.

But, it wasn’t until I read that Gandhi had said, “be the change you want in the world,” that I knew it was time to live in a cultural age and not just write about it, which I have been doing for some time now. This has involved seeing the world from a cultural perspective, dealing with culture and cultures in central and holistic terms.

Now for IMAGINE Vol. 2, I have the opportunity to elaborate on this with Culture as a Reality, a new campaign that will guide you through “20 Practical Steps Towards A Cultural Age” across the course of the next 20 weeks from today, Saturday, May 21st, up until Saturday, October 8th, on the eve of the second-annual Imagination Day.

It is pleasure to pick up where I left off in IMAGINE, Volume I.  Since that time, my book, The World as Culture: Cultivation of the Soul to the Cosmic Whole, has been published and is now available on all Amazon sites.  Ending with a chapter on ‘Making The World of Culture a Reality,’ The World as Culture opens the doors to a timely and urgent conversation about how this world can become a reality in the future.

Chapter 12, ‘Making The World of Culture a Reality,’ from The World as Culture by D. Paul Schafer

Commencing to coincide with World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development Dialogue and Development on Saturday, May 21, 2022,  I will be posting a principal theme, quote, and some additional information every Saturday for the next 20 weeks to activate and stimulate this conversation.

Culture as a Reality

SESSION 1 – SATURDAY, MAY 21st, 2022

The Cultural Age

THEME:

Today our inaugural theme is all about “culture as a reality” as the key to entering A Cultural Age.

My definition of a Cultural Age is an age where culture and cultures are seen and dealt with in holistic and all-inclusive terms as “complex wholes” or “total ways of life.” As such, the principal concern of a cultural age is developing all activities in life and most importantly achieving harmonious and balanced relationships between and among them.  This is necessary to come to grips with the dangerous and life-threatening problems that exist in the world today and going forward into the future.

QUOTE:

The quote that is most relevant to this is by Italian cultural contributor, Eleanora Barbieri Masini, who said, “Culture in the future is the crux of the future.”

This quote is essential because culture has been treated throughout history largely as a marginal rather than mainstream activity.  It is the crux of the future because  we need to shift from a world where culture is peripheral to a world where culture is central.

QUESTION:

What concrete steps do we individually and collectively need to take in practical terms to achieve this Cultural Age? What are you personally doing? What is working for you? What do you suggest we do? This is my question to you for todays inaugural session of Culture as a Reality.

Please give this question some thought and then provide your answers below in the comments section where the question has been posed. In the process, let’s start a discussion on this starting today right here on this page. Your input and proposals on this matter are crucial and will be highly valued and much appreciated. Those who get involved and engaged will not only become active players and contributors to a Great Conversation that can help to shape essential cultural consciousness and drive its development and expansion, but you will also be encouraged and rewarded with a chance to receive a personally autographed copy of The World as Culture.

I very much look to hearing from and working with you all over the next 20 weeks for my Culture as a Reality program. My contact information is available on my World Culture Project website home page, as is more information on THE WORLD AS CULTURE.

Kind regards,
Paul


Culture as a Reality

Session 1 Overview

  • Theme: Cultural Age: A Cultural Age is an age where culture and cultures are seen and dealt with in holistic and all-inclusive terms as “complex wholes” or “total ways of life.” As such, the principal concern of a cultural age is developing all activities in life and most importantly achieving harmonious and balanced relationships between and among them.  This is necessary to come to grips with the dangerous and life-threatening problems that exist in the world today and going forward into the future.
  • Question: What concrete steps do we need to take in practical terms to achieve this Cultural Age?
  • Quote: “Culture in the future is the crux of the future.” ― Eleanora Barbieri Masini
  • Book: The World as Culture: Cultivation of the Soul to the Cosmic Whole

Culture as a Reality

SESSION 2  –  SATURDAY, MAY 28, 2022

People as Culture

THEME:

In the inaugural launch of the first week of our 20-week conversation series on Saturday, May 21st, the main theme of Culture as a Reality was stated as the central role culture needs to play in the world in order to enter a cultural age. The relevant quote for the inaugural launch was by Eleanora Barbieri Masini, a distinguished cultural scholar and futurist from Italy who said “Culture in the future is the crux of the future,” thereby indicating that culture has a far more powerful role to play in the world of the future than it has the past or does at present.

Now that the main theme has been established for the entire series, the spotlight focuses on people today and the key role they can and should play in opening the doors to a cultural age and enabling it to flourish. We are privileged to have Meg Pier provide the input and basis for this conservation because no person is more qualified or knowledgeable about this matter or has more experience in this particular area.

Meg Pier is the founder, editor and publisher of People are Culture (PAC), a website that explores the meaning and relevance of culture through in-depth interviews and feature stories about how culture is created and shared. PAC profiles indigenous artisans; pioneering activists and innovators; dedicated stewards and preservationists; spiritual seekers; global visionaries and a host of others, who each relate their inspiration, process, techniques, and heritage. PAC’s human interest pieces also delve into its subject’s personal epiphanies, challenges, breakthroughs, and hopes for the future – for at the heart of all culture is our shared human condition.

People Are Culture presently provides more than 250 interviews, feature stories, and travel guides like this that reveal what makes places and different cultures unique. PAC shines a light on the traditions, customs, crafts and lifestyles of more than 30 countries in North, South and Central America, as well as Armenia, Europe, India, and the Middle East. Interviews with people in this respect cover 13 major categories, from architecture, archaeology, dance, and food to music, spirituality, textiles, and visual arts. As indicated on the PAC website, “In each piece, people share powerful insights about their heritage, while also revealing their own transformational life lessons and spiritual practices, world-changing ideas, dramatic adventures, and hard-won wisdom.

PAC’s stories take you deeper into the world’s different cultures–and also remind us that we all share the human condition. Culture explains what it means to be human. Culture is all the myriad ways we create, communicate, identify, individuate and connect. Culture provides ways to both express our individuality, and to see ourselves in others. Culture is the transmission line that makes possible cooperation, peace and prosperity. Without the capacity for connection we have misunderstandings, fear, intolerance, prejudice, chaos, anarchy and annihilation.

QUOTES:

Relevant quotes by Meg for this session are “Culture is both Universal and Personal” and “Culture explains what it means to be human.”

QUESTIONS:

Given that “people are culture” and we live a “cultural life” in the holistic sense that encompasses all aspects of culture and cultures and not just some aspects, how can people play a practical and proactive role in coming to grips with the dangerous and life-threatening problems that exist in the world today and make it possible for humanity and the world to cross over the threshold to a cultural age in the years and decades ahead?

Your thoughts, suggestions, and ideas on this will be highly valued and much appreciated as we move forward with our series of conversations and probe into many other aspects of culture in the weeks to come.

SOURCES:

Website: People are Culture

Book: What is Culture?; Why Does it Matter?

GET INVOLVED TO LEARN, SHARE ANS HAVE A CHANCE TO WIN!

Please give this session’s questions some thought and then give us your answers in the comments section below. In the process, let’s start a discussion here on this page. Your input and proposals on this matter are crucial and will be highly valued and much appreciated. Those who get involved will not only become active players in a Great Conversation that helps to shape “cultural consciousness”, but you will also be rewarded with a chance to receive a personally autographed copy of D. Paul Schafer’s new book, The World as Culture.


Culture as a Reality

SESSION 3 – SATURDAY, JUNE 4, 2022

Culture is the Foundation for the Development of Our Personalities and Lives

THEME

The theme of last week’s Culture as a Reality conversation was “people” – all people and not just some people, most people, or wealthy and privileged people.  It is important to state and accept this fact because culture plays a central role in the lives of all people when it is seen and treated in the holistic sense as a complex whole or total way of life.  This is why Session 2 of our conversation series was devoted to the work of Meg Pier and her organization – People Are Culture – since the focus of Meg’s wonderful work in this area is on the role that culture plays in the lives of all people throughout the world as depicted in the way they live their lives, the personal stories they possess about this, and the interviews Meg creates and posts on her website to illustrate and confirm this.

This week’s theme delves deeply into this most essential matter by examining “culture as the foundation for the development of people’s personalities and lives.”  It is based on the conviction that all people in the world live a “cultural life” in this all-encompassing sense that is made up of countless parts that are woven together in different combinations and arrangements to create unique wholes and distinctive ways of life. These parts include not only people’s bodies, minds, brains, souls, and spirits, but also all the diverse social, educational, economic, technological, political, environmental, recreational, spiritual, and other activities they are involved in over the course of their lives.   

And this matter does not end here.  Far from it.  In order to be effective, people need to strive to make their cultural lives “harmonious wholes” and not just “wholes” since this is what experiencing happiness, fulfillment, meaning, and good health in life is really all about.  Many cultural scholars have written about this in one form or another over the years, such as Matthew Arnold who believed that culture is the “harmonious expansion of all the powers which make the beauty and worth of human nature and is not consistent with the over-development of any one power at the expense of the others,” as well as Goethe who advised us to “live in the whole, in the good, and the beautiful,” and  Joseph Campbell who contended that we should “follow our bliss” if we want to do the things that we were intended to do with our lives and then strive to achieve this.     

QUOTES

“The study of culture properly begins with the study of the cultural elements of the individual.”  ― James Feibleman

“Human cultures are people’s personalities writ large” This quote was made by Margaret Mead in the Foreword to Ruth Benedict’s popular book Patterns of Culture as a result of excerpts in this book by Benedict that said, “A culture, like an individual, is a more or less consistent pattern of thought and action,” as well as these traits “add up to the culture’s unique form or shape, its wholeness.”

QUESTIONS

Do you agree with the claim that all people live a cultural life as a whole or total way of life in the holistic sense?  If so, do you see your own life in these terms now, or do you think this would be a good objective to pursue in the future?  And what about creating and living your life as a “harmonious whole?” Is this your principal goal in life or are there other more effective ways of realizing this? If so, how can people avoid slipping into a “disharmonious life” in the sense that they experience a lack of fulfillment, happiness, and good health in their lives? 

Your comments on these questions will be much appreciated and very helpful as we move forward with this conversation series, especially as the next conversation will be about visualizing a new prototype of the human personality and how to develop it in the future, namely the cultural personality.         

SOURCES

D. Paul Schafer, ‘Culture as the Foundation for the Development of Our Personalities and Our Lives’ This article can be accessed by putting the title of the article in quotation marks into Google, or through: https://oaji.net/articles/2020/690-1607525657.pdf

Matthew Arnold, Culture and Anarchy

James Feibleman, The Theory of Human Culture

Ruth Benedict, Patterns of Culture

John Cowper Powys, The Meaning of Culture


Culture as a Reality

SESSION 4 – SATURDAY, JUNE 11, 2022

The Cultural Personality

THEME

The theme of last week’s Culture as a Reality series was culture and peopleall people and not just some people, most people, or wealthy people. This week’s session is intimately related to this because it has to do with developing our own and other people’s personalities and lives. In the economic age, two “personality types” have dominated because they are based on the objectives of this age. The first is “the specialist personality,” and the second is “the economic personality.” The specialist personality results from Adam Smith’s belief that all people should specialize in a specific production function because this creates the most material and monetary wealth for themselves, their countries, and the world as a whole. The economic personality results from the studies of neo-classical economists such as William Stanley Jevons who believed people are producers of goods and services on the one hand and consumers of goods and services on the other hand and should strive to maximize their consumer satisfaction in the marketplace.

Both these personality types, which have dominated the world for more than two centuries, are breaking down.  The specialist personality is breaking down because contemporary economic systems and technologies are changing so rapidly that people’s production skills and abilities are often out of date soon after they are acquired, thereby causing them to lose their jobs and confront the fact that they may have ten or fifteen different jobs over the course of their lives. The economic personality is breaking down because people are seen largely as producers, consumers, and maximizers of their satisfaction in the marketplace, and consequently objects to be exploited in the interests of economic growth which, as we know, is having a devastating effect on the natural environment and making it impossible to achieve sustainable development. As a result of developments like this, and others, it is rapidly becoming apparent that we must create “new personality prototypes” that are consistent with the needs of the future rather than the present and the past.

This is why this week’s session and theme are concerned with the personality prototype that is most appropriate for the age of culture and its goals, objectives, and ideals. I believe this is the cultural personality, which should be holistic, centered, creative, altruistic, and humane in order to realize more happiness, spirituality, and fulfillment in life as well as live in harmony with other people, species, culture, cultures, and the natural environment.

QUOTES

“As the key to all the highest interests of the human race, Personality seems to be quite the most important and fruitful problem to which the thinkers of the coming generation could direct their attention.” ― Hans Christiaan Smuts

“The whole purpose and end of culture is a thrilling happiness of a particular sort – of the sort, in fact, that is caused by a response to life made by the harmony of the intellect, the imagination, and the senses.” ― John Cowper Powys

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there are only walls.” ― Joseph Campbell

“Live in the whole, the good, and the beautiful.” ― Goethe

QUESTIONS

Do you agree that the two personality prototypes – the specialist personality and the economic personality – are the most common today but are breaking down? Is your life at present based on one or both of these prototypes? If so, how have current developments and events impacted on your thoughts and views about your own personality development and that of others? Are you attracted to the idea and characteristics of the cultural personality proposed here, or are you searching for a different kind of personality development and characteristics in the future? And what about this concept of personality types and prototypes in the first place? Do you think they are helpful or harmful going forward into the future and living in a cultural age?

Your comments on these matters will be much appreciated and very helpful as we move forward with our conversational sessions. My sincere thanks for being part of this process. Today’s session ends our focus on culture, people, the person, and personality development and prototypes. Next week, the focus will be shifted to the community and communities and how they should be viewed and developed in the age of culture.

SOURCES

D. Paul Schafer, The Cultural Personality (Oakville, Rock’s Mills Press, 2018). This book is available from Rock’s Mills Press, the publisher at https://www.rocksmillspress.com/cultural.html, or all Amazon sites in the world.

Link to The Cultural Personality video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oeh96njkxbg

World Culture Project Website: www3.sympatico.ca/dpaulschafer

With the many dynamic changes going on in today’s world, a new prototype of the human personality is needed to guide people’s future actions, behaviour, lifestyles, and overall development. This new prototype is the cultural personality. It is grounded in the belief that people should be holistic, centred, creative, altruistic, and humane if they are to achieve more happiness, fulfillment, and spirituality in their own lives as well as live in harmony with other people, cultures, species, and the natural environment as a whole.

In The Cultural Personality, author D. Paul Schafer explores the background, ramifications, and promise of this exciting new personality concept. In Chapter One, an assessment is made of the context within which people find themselves in the world today. In Chapter Two, the cultural personality is examined as a concept, largely by juxtaposing the two interdependent concepts of “culture” and “personality.” In Chapter Three, the main characteristics of the cultural personality are revealed. In Chapter Four, the cultivation of the qualities and abilities that are most required to constitute the cultural personality are provided. And in Chapter Five, attention is given to the way the cultural personality can function most effectively in the world in practical terms.


Culture as a Reality

SESSION 5 – SATURDAY, JUNE 18, 2022

The Culturescape – Self-awareness of Communities

THEME

Now that we have examined culture in terms of people, living a cultural life, and the cultural personality, let’s move forward with this process by venturing into communities. This word covers a variety of situations and places: groups, neighbours, neighbourhoods, villages, towns, and cities. Our focus today is on physical places – neighbourhoods, villages, towns, and cities – and not accumulations of people as groups and neighbours.

How much do we really know about these places, especially the ones we are living in or can access easily by foot, car, or bus. How familiar are we with their residential and industrial districts, diverse ethnic groups, restaurants, galleries, museums, libraries, arts centres, sports complexes, political and religious institutions, architectural masterpieces, and the like? Do we assume too much and explore too little?

The community culturescape is a tool or technique that enables us to examine, discover, and learn a great deal more about our communities. Its objective is to help us see and understand our communities as cultural environments or wholes made up of countless parts. This can be achieved by building a constellation of community profiles, such as their different sights, sounds, smells, textures, tastes, structures, resources, institutions, buildings, mysteries, delights, and a great deal more. Information on this can be choreographed in many different ways to reveal their strengths and shortcomings, our likes and dislikes of them in collective terms, favourite haunts and hideways, and so forth.  This information can be choreographed and used to create cultural maps, inventories, itineraries, better decision-making and citizen engagement processes, and so much more.

What role should the community culturescape play in this and where should it be located? Over the centuries, many different activities, institutions, and facilities have played a key role in this. At one time, it was religion and religious institutions. At another, the central square where social meetings and conservations were conducted and daily affairs discussed. In more recent times, it is industrial, commercial, or financial complexes where economic and financial activities take place and decisions about them are made. And what about the future? Should we be creating “community culturescape centres” at the core of our communities where the collective cultural image of the community is situated and people can go to if they want to acquire more information about this, contribute ideas, stories, or artefacts to it, or get to know it as an ordered whole and engaging way of life?  

QUOTATIONS

“A community is like a shattered mirror. Each person possesses a piece that is large enough to see his or her own reflection. However, no one has a piece that is large enough to provide a reflection of the community as a whole. A culturescape is a tool that enables people everywhere to participate in putting the shattered mirror of the community back together again.” ― D. Paul Schafer, ‘The Culturescape: Self-Awareness of Communities,’ UNESCO, Cultures 5:1 (1978).

“The city is both a physical utility for collective living and a symbol of those collective purposes and unanimities that arise under such favouring circumstances. With language itself, it remains man’s (people’s) greatest work of art.”  ― Lewis Mumford, The Culture of Cities (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and World, 1938), p. 5 (insert mine)

“Cities, among other things, are physical artifacts, experienced through all the senses by people who are in them. They are experienced sequentially as people follow different paths and use different movement modes through them. Cities look, smell, sound and feel different, they have a different character or ambience..” ― Amos Rapoport, ‘Culture and the Urban Order,’ in John A. Agnew, John Mercer and David E Sopher (ed.) The City in Cultural Context (Boston: Allen and Unwin, 1984).p. 51.

QUESTIONS

How much do you know about your community, neighbourhood, village, town, or city as a whole? How involved are you in its daily affairs or engaged in its decision-making processes? Are there things you would like to contribute to your community’s culturescape process and methodology? How concerned are you about the future development and direction of your community and its all-inclusive culturescape?

Your comments on these matters will be greatly appreciated and very helpful as we move forward with our conversational sessions. Many thanks for being part of this informative and organic process.  Next week, we will follow up on the community culturescape by examining the role children, young people, families, and schools should play in this.

SOURCES

Lewis Mumford, The Culture of Cities (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and World, 1938).

John A. Agnew, John Mercer and David E Sopher (ed.) The City in Cultural Context (Boston: Allen and Unwin, 1984).

D. Paul Schafer, ‘The Culturescape: Self-Awareness of Communities,’ UNESCO, Cultures 5:1 (1978). I would be pleased to send you an electronic copy of this article in English, French, or Spanish if you provide me with your email address.

‘Feasting on Cultures to Solve Our Problems and Enrich Our Lives’ (http://www3.sympatico.ca/dpaulschafer/Feasting.pdf

World Culture Project Website:  www3.symaptico.ca/dpaulschafer


Culture as a Reality

SESSION 6 – SATURDAY, JUNE 25, 2022

Reconnecting with your Culture

THEME

One of the most important developments taking place in the world today is the need many people, peoples, groups, and countries have to protect, connect, or reconnect with their cultures and heritages as ways of life. If their cultures and heritages are not threatened or attacked, it is easy to take them for granted. However, if they are threatened or attacked, they will immediately act to protect, preserve, connect, or reconnect with them, as is manifested in many parts of the world. As ways of life, cultures and heritages are the most important elements of all since they provide the context for everything and reveal how people see the world, live in the world, and work out their connection with the world. 

This is most apparent in terms of Black and Indigenous peoples as well as colonized people who lost or had their cultures and heritages destroyed many centuries ago and are now committed to reconnecting with them. This is also true for Ukraine, Ukrainians, and the illegal war in Ukraine, where this country, its culture and heritage, and its overall way of life are under fierce attack by Russia and are fighting to the bitter end to protect them. 

If there is one place where the response to developments like these should take place in the years ahead, surely it is with children, young people, and future generations. Their need to connect or reconnect with their cultures and heritages is crucial, especially in terms of learning their original languages, centuries-old customs and traditions, important historical events, artistic accomplishments, and especially their cherished worldviews, values, value systems, myths, legends, and beliefs. This is because they differ fundamentally from the foreign languages, heritages, and cultures they were forced to learn and are now imperative for their individual and collective survival and well-being, sense of identity, health and welfare, and ability to thrive as distinctive and creative peoples, groups, and nations.

While many organizations are involved in undertakings and activities like this, here is some basic information on one of these organizations that is expanding rapidly throughout the world. It is Reconnecting With Your Culture. It was founded in 2020 by Olimpia Niglio, a professor of architecture, and her colleagues and supported by the International Research Centre Esempi di Architecttura and many others. Its main mission is to enable children and young people in elementary and secondary schools to explore their own cultures and heritages and those of others in their own communities and document and share their experiences and results by drawing pictures, writing stories, making maps, and the like. They work closely with their teachers, schools, and parents on this process, and do so at the perfect time in their lives. While these experiences have national and international implications, most of the teaching and learning activities like this take place close to home and are proving to be very effective.  

QUOTATIONS

“Children and young people encounter their cultures and heritages first and foremost at the local level.”

“You must prepare yourself as if you were going on a trip to find a treasure and then draw it.”

“Think Cosmically, see Globally, behave Regionally, act Locally but insightfully.”

QUESTIONS

How does the situation confronting Black and Indigenous peoples, colonized countries, Ukraine and Ukrainians, and other minority and oppressed groups resonate with your own situation and experiences? Do you require help in preserving, protecting, and reconnecting with your original culture and heritage, or are grandparents, parents, relatives, friends, or community leaders able to help you with this? Are you able to help others in your community or culture who are experiencing problems like this with their problems? How are developments like this proving helpful in enabling you to find the confidence and comfort you need to recreate your own lives in creative, constructive, and rewarding ways?   

Your comments and contributions to these questions or others like them will be much appreciated and contribute a great deal to this and other sessions moving forward and positioning developments like this in their proper place and visualizing the changes that are necessary to recreate the world from a cultural perspective in practical terms. Next week’s session will follow up on this session by examining the urgent need at the present time to teach and learn about culture, cultures, and heritages in all schools and institutions throughout the world as well as all levels of the educational system.

SOURCES

Reconnecting With Your Culture : http://esempidiarchitettura.it/sito/edakids-reconnecting-with-your-culture/

RWYC: An Accessible Guide to the Pedagogical Method: http://esempidiarchitettura.it/sito/rwyc-international-guide/

RWYC: Tokyo Charter:

http://esempidiarchitettura.it/sito/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/TOKYO-CHARTER-EDUCATION-2021.pdf

The Tokyo Charter is available in many languages as you will notice on the RWYC’s website provided above.

D. Paul Schafer, World Culture Project, WCP Website: http://www3.sympatico.ca/dpaulschafer


Culture as a Reality

SESSION 7 – SATURDAY, JULY 2, 2022

Cultural Education

THEME

Session 6 ended with Reconnecting With Your Culture and the essential role it is playing in encouraging children and young people in the 5-17 age category to explore their own cultures and heritages and those of others in their own localities and communities and document their experiences in a variety of ways. As a result, it is working at the cutting edge of one of the most important requirements in the educational field today, namely what type of “cultural education” should people get in the future and how should educational authorities, institutions, and systems in the world respond and deal with this requirement.

Unfortunately, most people get little or no education in culture and cultures at present.  Courses in the arts, humanities, and heritage of history are either non-existent or are being cut back, courses in culture in post-secondary educational institutions are limited to some students taking a course or courses in anthropology, sociology, or cultural studies, and there are very few if any extensions courses in this domain. This must change and change dramatically in the future, with a far higher priority accorded to cultural education.

To be effective and in tune with present and prospective needs and developments, cultural education should be divided into four distinct components: learning about the nature and meaning of culture and cultures in all their diverse manifestations; learning about the fundamentals of culture, cultures, and civilizations, including their underlying assumptions, axioms, values, value systems, worldviews, ways of life, ideals, and so forth; dealing with the context of culture and cultures as well as culture and cultures as contexts; and situating culture and cultures effectively in the natural, historical, global, and cosmic environment. Given the complexity and diversity of culture and cultures as wholes or total ways of life, special emphasis should be placed on “cultural symbols” that “stand for the whole” or “the total ways of life of people” and consequently say a great deal about culture and cultures in the symbolic and representative sense.

The type of cultural education advocated here should start early in life and end late, as well as be tailored to coincide with the different stages of life. In order to do this, it should start with children in the home and family, continue through their elementary, secondary, and post-secondary education, be sustained later in life through adult education, extension, and lifelong learning programs. It should also be designed to cover the broad range of disciplines engaged in culture and cultures, from the arts, humanities, heritage of history, psychology, sociology, and anthropology to ecology, biology, mythology, and cosmology.

QUOTES

“Culture and education have no bounds or limits.” ― Maria Montessori

“The crucial differences which distinguish human societies and human beings are not biological. They are cultural.” ― Ruth Benedict

“If we are to preserve culture, we must continue to create it.” ― Johan Huizinga

“A truly vibrant and creative culture depends on a system of education which is not divided along class and sectarian lives.” ― Tom Paulin

QUESTIONS

How would you assess your own education in culture and cultures? Was, or is, its non-existence, inadequate, adequate, or more than adequate? What changes would you like to see made in cultural education at present and especially going forward into the future? Did you receive any education in other cultures beside your own? The distinguished Mexican cultural scholar, Antonio Alonso-Concheiro, believes that we can never really get to know or understand other cultures because we can’t transcend our own cultural frame of reference and conditioning. Do you agree with this? If so, what are the implications of this for cultural education and international relations in the future? Do you think a special role should be accorded to the arts in cultural education in the years and decades ahead?

Your comments and contributions to these questions – or others like them – will be much appreciated and contribute a great deal to this and other sessions moving forward and positioning developments like this in their proper place and visualizing the changes that are necessary to recreate the world from a cultural perspective in practical terms. Next weeks’ session – Session 8 – will be devoted to the Jena Declaration which was created very recently and is committed to the broadly agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through a “bottom up” rather than “top down” approach to these goals and stronger engagement of the humanities, the social sciences, and the arts in this. This coincides with the approach being taken in this Culture as a Reality series and its 20 specific sessions.

SOURCES

Culture and Cultures: Key Learning Requirements for the Future

The Future of Arts Education: Broaden, Deepen, Diversify, Intensify’

D. Paul Schafer, World Culture Project, WCP Website: www3.sympatico.ca/dpaulschafer


Culture as a Reality

SESSION 8 – SATURDAY, JULY 9, 2022

Culture from the Bottom Up

THEME

Throughout history, most major developments in the world have occurred from the “top down.” This was true in ancient and medieval times when virtually all decisions concerning crucial developments were made by powerful rulers, wealthy elites, and landlords who owned vast tracts of land and compelled serfs (labourers) to do all the work on them. This is also true in modern times where rich and powerful classes, countries, and institutions – corporations, “developed countries,” national governments, international organizations, and wealthy classes – own and control more than ninety percent of the world’s income and wealth and make decisions about what developments will take place and who will benefit most from them.

However, things are starting to change at present because the top down approach is not working and proving incapable of coming to grips with the life-threatening problems that exist in the world today, most obviously the environmental crisis, huge inequalities in income and wealth, and clashes between different classes, races, ethnic groups, and countries. As a result, more and more pressure is being exerted from the “bottom up” to deal with these problems. While both approaches are needed to resolve these problems, there is no doubt that a much higher priority will be accorded to developments for the bottom up in the future.

What is true for history and the world is also true for this series. This is why this series has been concerned from the outset with developments from the bottom up, commencing with people are culture, culture as the foundation of people’s personalities and lives, the cultural personality, the culturescape: self-awareness of communities, and cultural education at the local level. With this as the foundation and centrepiece, it is now time to start moving up the cultural ladder to show what this means for city, regional, national, and world cultures, international relations, the world, the cosmos, and forays into the profound and sublime. This session is concerned with the “cultural model of development” and “the new politics” for government, governments, and political decision-making since this impacts on all these areas and others. This session also introduces the Jena Declaration since it is concerned primarily with developments from the bottom up in order to achieve real sustainable development and will be encountered again toward the end of this series.

QUOTES

“Culture is not merely an economic or political concept; it is more fundamentally a process of culture and civilization.” ― The Schveningen Report

“The systematic interpretation of culture brings us close to the thesis that global development is in reality the development of cultures and civilizations.” ― Nada Švob-Dokić 

“Without a large cultural transformation, development is doomed to the destiny of ghost towns.” ― Javier Pérez de Cuéllar

“Culture is the alpha and omega of any sound development policy.” ― Léopold Senghor

QUESTIONS

What model of development is used in your country to make decisions about key matters at the present time? Would the cultural model of development described here be a more appropriate model for the future? If so, what obstacles stand in the way of using this model, particularly by governments? Is this cultural model shared by people in your area of culture? What do you think is required to convince those in power that this is the right model to use in the years and decades ahead?

Your comments and contributions to these questions – and others like them – will be much appreciated and contribute a great deal to this and other sessions moving forward to recreate the world from a cultural perspective and enter a cultural age in practical terms.  Next week’s session – Session 9 – will be devoted to the “bottom up” approach as it relates to city, municipal, and regional cultures and the powerful role they are destined to play in the world of the future.

SOURCES

The Jena Declaration: https://www.thejenadeclaration.org

http://www3.sympatico.ca/dpaulschafer/ACULTURALMODELOFDEVELOPMENT.pdf  Click on open hyperlink to access this article, or access it on the World Culture Project Website in the “Hot Topics” section. This article can be downloaded if required.)

http://www3.sympatico.ca/dpaulschafer/TheNewPolitics.pdf   Click on open hyperlink to access this article, or access it on the World Culture Project Website in the “Hot Topics” section. This article can be downloaded if required.)

World Culture Project Website: www3.sympatico.ca/dpaulschafer


Culture as a Reality

SESSION 9 – SATURDAY, JULY 16, 2022

Town, City, and Regional Cultures

(Part 1 – The Role of the Arts)

THEME

Once we move beyond families, localities, and schools as cultures, we are greeted by a vast array of town, city, regional, national, international, and global cultures. These cultures, which are all very distinctive, are becoming more accessible through travel by car, bus, and plane, computers, tourism, and a variety of visual and virtual devices. These cultures can be classified in many different ways that help to reveal their specific characteristics, features, traditions, customs, and worldviews as complex wholes and total ways of life.

Nothing beats the arts when it comes to broadening, deepening, and intensifying our knowledge, understanding, and awareness of town, city, and regional cultures in the holistic sense, which is also true for cultures at all other levels. When we talk about the arts in this sense, we not only mean the performing, exhibiting, and literary arts – essential as these are – but also the culinary, decorative, architectural, material, recreational, horticultural, and all other art forms. Visualized in this way, the arts contribute an enormous amount to the livability, vitality, uniqueness, and sustainability of town, city, and regional cultures, as well as to their creativity, synergy, connectivity, and collectively, revitalization, renewal, and revival, identity and sense of belonging, beautification and economic benefits, and the happiness, enjoyment, and fulfillment they provide to citizens. 

And this is not all. Do you remember the culturescape discussed in Session 5? Well, the arts are the best vehicle of all for “putting the shattered mirror of town, city, and regional cultures back together again,” as well as creating and capitalizing on a more all-encompassing portrait and vision of them. When all the different art forms as well as the qualities and capabilities inherent in them are added up and combined with the “symbolic significance and potential” of every art form, object, or activity, it is possible to create an enticing and all-encompassing visualization of any town, city, or regional culture and its most informative characteristics. This might even include a culturescape centre that would enable citizens to contribute a great deal more to the planning and development of their towns, cites, and regions, as well as play a more prominent and active role in this.

QUOTES

“… the arts are not for a privileged few but for the many, their place is not on the periphery of society but at its center, (they) are not just a form of recreation but are of central importance of our well-being and happiness.” ― The Performing Arts: Problems and Prospects, The Rockefeller Panel Report

“Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.” ― George Bernard Shaw

“Art comes to you proposing frankly to give nothing but the highest quality to your moments as they pass.” ― Walter Pater

“The chief function of the city is to convert power into form, energy into culture, dead matter into the living symbols of art, biological reproduction into social creativity.” ― Lewis Mumford.

QUESTIONS

Have you ever thought of creating a comprehensive culturescape of your own town, city, or regional culture? If so, how would you go about it? Would you do it yourself, or with a group of people at an arts council, cultural centre, art gallery, or museum? What art forms and artistic activities do you think would predominate most in your culturescape? 

Your comments and responses to these questions – and others like them – will be much appreciated and contribute a great deal to this and future sessions. Next week’s session will be focused more on the planning and development of town, city, and regional cultures and the role that governments and municipal institutions and authorities should play in this.

SOURCES

‘The Arts and Cities,’ Chapter 5, D. Paul Schafer, THE ARTS: Gateway to a Fulfilling Life and Cultural Age, Rock’s Mills Press, 2021

‘Place-As Product: A Place-Based Approach to Cultural Tourism,’ Steven Thorne: https://www.slideshare.net/StevenThorne2/place-as-product-a-placebased-approach-to-cultural-tourism-2013-71873629

Charles Landry, The Creative City, Earthscan Publishers, Second Edition, 2008

Charles Landry, The Sensory Landscape of Cities, Comedia, 2012

ORGANIZATIONS 

Creative City Network of Canada: https://www.creativecity.ca/

UNESCO Creative Cities Network: https://en.unesco.org/creative-cities/home

New Cities: media@newcities.org

Artscape Canada: https://www.artscape.ca/


Culture as a Reality

SESSION 10 – SATURDAY, JULY 23, 2022

Town, City, and Regional Cultures

(Part II – Government and Governance)

THEME

If town, city, and regional cultures are to be livable in the future, many changes will be required in environmental sustainability, decreasing poverty, unemployment, and vast inequalities in income and wealth, creating more affordable housing, reducing religious, ethnic, and racial tensions and conflict, dealing with numerous transportation and communications issues, and many others. In order to do this, fundamental improvements will have to be made in the way towns, cities, and regions and their cultures are governed and managed.

This is especially important as people broaden and deepen their perceptions, perspectives, and understanding of culture and cultures from “the arts, humanities, heritage of history, and cultural industries” to culture and cultures as “complex wholes” and “total ways of life,” and with this, from marginal to mainstream activities. This is bound to have a profound effect on the way towns, cities, and regional cultures are mapped out, planned, developed, and administered.

Few, if any, town, municipal, and regional governments are able to do this due to the way they are structured at present, since this will necessitate establishing departments or ministries of culture as principal developmental, administrative, and planning agencies, creating cultural plans that include the economic sector rather than economic plans that include the cultural sector, renegotiating financial and constitutional arrangements on a more equitable basis between the various levels of government, changing taxation policies and procedures, and creating a great deal more cultural infrastructure. 

To my knowledge, no government in the world at the municipal or regional level is able to achieve this at present, or even have their sights set on this as their ultimate goal. Hence the need to give a great deal more attention to this matter at present. Most importantly, this will require establishing departments or ministries of culture with the authority, power, resources, and checks and balances to make the development of culture and cultures their top priority in public planning, policy, and decision-making in both theoretical and practical terms, as well as increasing citizen involvement and participation in the developmental process.

QUOTES

“There is no logic that can be superimposed on the city; people make it, and it is to them, not buildings, that we must fit our plans.” ― Jane Jacobs (italics mine)

“A city must be a place where groups of women and men are seeking and developing the highest things they know.” ― Margaret Mead

Wealth in cities is created less by what we produce and more by how we use our brains and add value through knowledge and imagination… Human cleverness, ingenuity, and creativity are replacing location, natural resources, and market access as urban assets. We need the provide the conditions to unleash this.” ― Charles Landry

“The seeds of civilization are in every culture, but it is city life that brings them to perfection.”  ― Suzanne Langer

QUESTIONS

What are the major characteristics and differences between town, city, and regional cultures in your area of the world? Where does your town, city, and region stand in terms of government and governance? How effective is this going forward into the future? What changes are needed in planning policies, decision-making processes, taxation powers, funding formulas, and departmental structures to improve this situation?

Your comments and responses to these questions – and others like them – will be much appreciated. Next week’s session will be focused on the planning, development, and importance of national cultures and international relations.

SOURCES

Livable Neighbourhoods, Towns, and Cities,’ Chapter 8, Will This Be Canada’s Century?, Rock’s Mills Press, 2018.

Nancy Duxbury, Jyoti Hosagrahar, and Jordi Pascual, ‘Why Must Culture Be at the Heart of Sustainable Urban Development?’: https://www.agenda21culture.net/sites/default/files/files/documents/en/culture_sd_cities_web.pdf

Colin Mercer, ‘’Cultural Planning for Urban Development and Creative Cities’: https://www.kulturplan-oresund.dk/pdf/Shanghai_cultural_planning_paper.pdf

‘Municipalities and Regions, Powerful Forces in a Dynamic World: http://www3.sympatico.ca/dpaulschafer/MunicipalitiesAndRegions.pdf

Agenda 21 for Culture:  https://www.agenda21culture.net


Culture as a Reality

SESSION 11 – SATURDAY, JULY 30, 2022

National Cultures

THEME

In the vast constellation of cultures, national cultures stand out and are the most essential of all in many ways. Not only are they the sum and substance of the total way of life of people and countries in the holistic sense, but also many of the most important decisions in the world as well as people’s citizenship and rights are dealt with at the national level. Furthermore, most countries are known in the world for their national cultural symbols, especially their flags, anthems, sports, and works of art, science, and scholarship.

While evaluation of countries’ cultural policies has been very popular over the last few decades, these evaluations have been largely confined to the arts, cultural industries, and related areas. Unfortunately, very little has been written about national cultures in holistic terms as complex wholes or total ways of life, although there has been a significant amount written about these cultures in economic and corporate terms. As a result, there is room for a great deal of original research and many publications in this area, especially given all the problems national cultures are confronted with today and going forward into the future.

Two countries that are closest to making commitments to culture in the all-inclusive holistic sense at the present time through their national cultures are France and Indonesia. France is well known throughout the world for its strong historical and contemporary commitment to culture and the role it plays in the lives of its citizens and the country as a whole, mapping out the cultural regions of France, and funding various cultural activities.

To my knowledge, Indonesia is the first country in the world to make a political commitment to the centrality of culture in the holistic sense, which is set out in its Act No. 5/2017 titled Advancement of Culture. This Act states:The promotion of Indonesian National Culture is carried out based on Pancasila, the Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia in 1945, the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia, and Bhinneka Tunggal Ika. Principles for the Advancement of National Culture in Indonesia are tolerance, diversity, locality, cross-regional participation, benefits, sustainability, freedom of expression, cohesiveness, equality, and mutual cooperation… the purpose is to develop the noble values of the nation’s culture, enrich cultural diversity, strengthen national identity, strengthen the unity and integrity of the nation, educate life of the nation, improve the image of the nation, realize civil society, improve the welfare of free people, preserve the nation’s cultural heritage, and influence the direction of development of world civilization so that Culture becomes national development direction.”Fortunately, Indonesia has had a number of prominent cultural scholars over the years such as S. Takdir Alisjahbana, Soedjatmoko, Mochtar Lubis, and more recently Mira Sartika and others who have and are making valuable contributions to this seminal achievement.

Bhutan should likely be added to this list. It has done a great deal in recent years to commit to “gross national happiness” as its principal goal, national yardstick, and fundamental form of measurement rather than “gross national product.” Remember what Ruth Benedict said, “context determines content.” Change the context and you change the contents!

QUOTES

“A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its citizens.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

“If you want to change the culture, you will have to start by changing the organization.” ― Mary Douglas

“Culture in the last analysis represents the human aspiration to realize the highest form of life. In this respect, secular cultures are no different from religiously-oriented cultures.”  ― S. Takdir Alisjahbana

“It is becoming evident that to understand the true nature of development, we need to see culture as the bedrock from which reality is perceived, aspirations are articulated, and choices defined.”  ― Soedjatmoko

QUESTIONS

What is the situation in your country with respect to developing your culture nationally in holistic terms? What activities, elements, and events best epitomize or symbolize your national culture and what yardsticks and cultural indicators can be used most effectively to do this? Are you interested in undertaking research in this area for your country?

I would highly recommend reading the entire Chapter 13 of Brian Holihan’s remarkable book and especially his UIG (Unity, Infinity, Growth) and AWB (At, With, Beyond) interactive cycle (see book link below). Brian believes that we can experience paradise of earth by exploring, understanding, appreciating, and learning from all the different cultures in the world. I couldn’t agree more. Your comments on this session will be greatly appreciated and most welcomed.  Next week’s session will be on International Relations.

SOURCES

Geert Hofstede: Cultures Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviour, Institutions, and Organizations Across Nations (Los Angeles, CA, Sage Publications, 2001)

Cultural Policies in France: A Compendium of Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe: Profile: France

S. Takdir Alisjahbana: Values as Integrating Forces in Personality, Society, and Culture (Kuala Lumpur: University of Malaya Press, 1986)

Brain Holihan: THINKING IN A NEW LIGHT: How to Boost Your Creativity and Live More Fully by Exploring World Cultures (Sunnyvale, CA.: Full Humanity Press, 2016)


Culture as a Reality

SESSON 12 – SATURDAY, AUGUST 6, 2022

International (Cultural) Relations

THEME

A major transformation is needed in the present system of international relations. This is because it has become apparent in recent years that this system is not working.

The most important factor in determining the current character and functioning of the present system of international relations is the publication of C. P. Snow’s book The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution in 1959. In this book, Snow made the case that intellectual life in the western world was divided into two cultures: the artistic-humanistic culture; and the scientific culture. According to Snow, this was a major impediment in coming to grips with the world’s problems at that time because the artistic-humanistic culture was given far too much attention and funding and the scientific culture far too little.

This caused a major paradigm shift to occur in most educational systems in the world from “soft subjects” (the arts and humanities) to “hard subjects (the sciences). It wasn’t long after this that the sciences were linked to economics, politics, industry, and technology and therefore the interests and concerns of corporations and governments. These interests and concerns came to be known as “hard activities” or “the basics in life” – what life and living are really all about – whereas the arts and humanities came to be known as “soft activities” or “the frills in lifewhat people do in their leisure time.  

This system needs to be transformed for two reasons. First, it is a partial, partisan, and dichotomous way of looking at and dealing with international relations – a way that satisfies the needs of the economic age but not the needs of a cultural age. Second, this system can’t deal with the environment crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, and conflicts between different people and countries because the environmental, artistic, humanistic, and spiritual requirements of life are downplayed and often ignored, as is confirmed by the war in Ukraine and relations between the United States and China, Palestine and Israel, and others that are no longer able or willing to collaborate, negotiate, discuss, or compromise.

In order to deal with these problems, and others, it is imperative to view international relations from a holistic and all-inclusive cultural perspective rather than a partial, partisan, and bifurcated economic perspective, as well as accord a much higher priority to the environment, the arts, education, heritage, the humanities, social affairs, and other activities. Viewed and dealt with in this way, there is no difference between international relations and international cultural relations since they are both seen in cultural terms. This is consistent with the holistic meaning culture and cultures are acquiring in the current world, as well as the fact that it is impossible to conduct international relations in any area of foreign policy without profound cultural implications and consequences. What this means in fact is that international relations should be concerned with what is in the best cultural interests of countries in the holistic sense, rather than what is in their best economic interests in the partial sense. Properly understood and conducted, this could open the doors to the development of a new system of international relations between all countries based on inclusion, equality, sustainability, and humanity rather than exclusion, inequality, environmental devastation, and materialism. If something is not in a country’s best cultural interests, it should not be pursued regardless of how much it satisfies the economic interests of some institutions and countries but not all institutions and countries.

QUOTES

“…cultural relations are, and will increasingly become, a decisive factor of international affairs.” ― Paul J. Braisted, Soedjatmoko, and Kenneth W. Thompson  

“Cultures in watertight compartments are doomed to oblivion.”  Dialogue is essential. ― Mircea Malitza

“We must prepare the field for the cooperation of all cultures of the world where all will give and take from each other. This is the keynote of the coming age.” ― Rabindranath Tagore

“ …the entire foreign policy process is itself subordinate to larger cultural dynamics.” ― F.A. Ninkovitch

QUESTIONS

What is your main concern about international relations today? Do you think we need a new system of international relations? If so, how do you think this can be achieved most effectively in your country?

Your comments on this matter will be much appreciated. Next week’s session will be concerned with world culture, cultures, and the new cosmic reality.

SOURCES

Biserka Cvjectičanin and Nada Švob-Ðokić (editors), Cultures in Cooperation: Realities and Tendencies. Centre for Democracy and Law Miko Tripalo in cooperation with the Institute for Development and International Relations/Culturelink, Zagreb, and University of Rijeka, Rijeka, 2020

Ibid., D. Paul Schafer, ‘International Cultural Relations: – Canada and the European Union – Past, Present, and Future, pp. 175-187

J. M. Mitchell, International Cultural Relations (London: Allen &Unwin, 1986)

D. Paul Schafer, Canada’s International Cultural Relations: Key to Canada’s Role in the World (Markham, Canada: World Culture Project, 1996)


Culture as a Reality

SESSION 13 – SATURDAY, AUGUST 13, 2022

World Culture, World Cultures, and the Cosmos

THEME

Over the last fifty or sixty years, several visions of the world and world system have been created or are being created and promoted in one form or another.  

Shortly after World War II, a vision was promoted by western countries and international organizations based on a “world culture” predicated primarily on economics, economies, and economic growth. In this vision, people are seen as consumers first and foremost, corporations maximize their profits, and countries and governments accord the highest priority to economic growth. This vision has been driven by globalization and its capacity to bring people, countries, and the world together to yield a uniform global culture and the conviction that eventually all people, organizations, and countries would benefit from this.   

Over the last few decades, this vision is being challenged by a second emerging vision, largely as a result of the environmental crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the reaction of countless people and many countries to the vision of a uniform world culture dominated by economics, powerful elites, huge corporations, and a few superpowers that own and control most of the world’s income, wealth, and resources, call the shots, and people, countries, and cultures act and look much the same. This has resulted from the anti-globalization movement spreading in the world and driven largely by marginalized and oppressed people and colonized countries that are advocating for systemic rather than piecemeal change, more equality and justice in the world, many different cultures and identities rather than a single world culture and identity, a rich diversity of cultural creations and expressions, and, quite recently, developments from the “bottom up” and not just the “top down.” This has focused more attention on “unity in diversity,” “world cultures”- cultures that are very much in the world but still possess their distinctive identity, character, and authenticity – and possibly the creation of a “global federation of world cultures” that makes it possible to bring people and countries closer together.  

Over the last few years, these two visions have been influenced by the escalating interest in “the cosmos.” While many factors are driving this, one of the most important factors is the danger of an imminent environmental catastrophe and the destruction of the planet. This is being matched by a growing interest in the cultures of the Indigenous peoples, as well as cultures in Asia and especially India that tend to view life and living from a holistic perspective, recognize the need to situate culture and cultures in a broader and deeper ecological, historical, and cosmological context, and most of all, visualize the development of the world, world system, and culture and cultures in these terms. Could this provide the foundation for a more sustainable, equitable, and human vision of the world in the future?   

QUOTES

“Every culture, every people, every society must rediscover its own interior cosmology, must arrive at a coherent account of its being in the world, must be able to locate itself in a recognizable world and find for itself the organizing principle of its world.” ― Pierre Pascallon

“Our only possibility of progress lies in thorough comprehension of and immersion in the problem of world-view.” ― Albert Schweitzer

“What is needed is a meaning-filled story that sees humankind as part of cosmic processes… Dance, song, art, drama, and spoken narratives can make explicit the bondedness and interdependence of all species… The very survival of the human community requires the creative articulation of a new mode of human presence within universal processes.” ― Angela T. Lydon

“When there is no vision, the people perish.” ― Proverbs, 29:18

QUESTIONS

Where do you feel your country and culture stand in terms of these actual and potential visions of the world and world system? Do you think they can incorporate the insights, wisdom, and understanding of the cultures of the Indigenous peoples and people living in countries like India in time to prevent an environmental disaster? If so, how do you think this can be achieved through a more compelling and appropriate vision of the world and world system?

Your response to these questions will be much appreciated. Next week’s session on The Roots of Culture, Cultures, and Cultural Genetics will be provided by Mira Sartika, an outstanding cultural scholar from Indonesia and founder and president of the Chakra Cultural Foundation there.  

SOURCES

Chapter 11, Mythology, Worldview, and Cosmology in D. Paul Schafer, THE WORLD AS CULTURE: Cultivation of the Soul to the Cosmic Whole, (Oakville, ON: Rock’s Mills Press, 2022), pp. 235-252.

Frank J. Lechner and John Boli, World Culture: Origins and Consequences (London: Wiley and Blackwell, 2015)

THE ECOZOIC: Reflections on Life in an Ecological-Cultural Age: Thomas Berry’s Work, Number 4, 2017 (www.ecozoicsocieties.com)

Journey of the Universe Newsletter: https://mailchi.mp/journeyoftheuniverse/july-2022?e=ae31638919

Deeptime Leadership and Personal Empowerment Program, Princeton University, https://dtnetwork.org/events/deeptime-leadership-personal-empowerment-program-info-session-1/


Culture as a Reality

SESSION 14 – SATURDAY, AUGUST 20, 2022

The Roots of Culture, Cultures, and Cultural Genetics

THEME

The roots of culture, cultures, and cultural genetics provide a new perspective on how culture is truly “the complex whole” in human life. Apprehending this dimension of culture contributes to making a concrete step and following the pathway to a Cultural Age as discussed in Session 1. The roots of culture are the foundation of people’s identity in conducting “total ways of life” in harmony with the natural environment. I believe there are two fundamental roots of culture that exist in human society based on “environmentally affected thresholds” and these are the sea environment and the land environment (Sartika, 2015). These two roots give birth to two distinct cultures that exist in human populations and they are the Sea People Culture and the Land People Culture (Sartika, 2015).

The next step is why culture has something to do with genetics. The most fundamental answer why culture is interconnected with genetics is that both culture and genetics share the same natural characteristic and that is inheritance. Genes are passed on from parents to children and so is culture. Yet, the roots of culture (sea and land environment) make the regulations of genes act differently between the two cultures mentioned above which result in two different characteristics in human populations. For we are all aware that gene regulation is influenced by various factors including RNA and the dedicated environment.

Furthermore, I have discovered during my research on conclusive involution of culture based on the pattern of human history that culture is actually a storehouse of genetic applications and much of it is, and indeed exists, in the understanding of the genetic field. In other words, culture and genetic are interwoven and connected throughout human history, from which the description of Cultural Genetics is originally derived. Cultural Genetics is a holistic approach to the study of genetics that involves cultural roots and cultural mapping, notwithstanding cultural knowledge construed from the environmental affected threshold, which encapsulates the concatenation between genetics, the environment, and societies in order to maintain the sustainability of life in harmony with nature. (Sartika, 2018). Thus, cultural genetics is a tool to study culture as a complex whole in order to understand harmonious and balanced relationships between people, societies, and the environment.

One of the concrete steps for the Cultural Age is to perceive People Are Culture (Meg Pier) as discussed in Session 3 regarding culture and cultures as “complex wholes” and their identity as “total ways of life” (Schafer, 2022).  People should understand what his/her roots of culture are, and what culture or cultures he/she belong to as a result of inheritance from their ancestors. Only by everyone following their own roots and cultures will the principles of tolerance, diversity, locality, cross-regional participation, benefits, sustainability, freedom of expression, cohesiveness, equality, and mutual cooperation (Act No. 5, 2017) be truly manifested in human society. Ultimately, knowing who we are and our own identity as “People are Culture” is the very first concrete step in the realization of the Cultural Age. Succinctly, educating the younger generation to reconnect again with their own local culture is truly essential and a real manifestation to commencing the Cultural Age, which is being implemented by RWYC (Session 6) lead by Professor Olimpia Niglio.

QUOTES

“No society can flourish without culture & no development can be sustainable without it.” ― UNESCO

“Increasingly, it is becoming evident that to understand the true nature of development, we need to see culture as the bedrock from which reality is perceived, aspirations are articulated, and choices defined – including those related to development.” ― Soedjatmoko

“Knowing who we are and our own identity as “People are Culture” is the very first concrete step in the realization of the Cultural Age.” ― Mira Sartika

QUESTIONS

Who are you as individuals, as communities, and as part of the environment?

This basic question is important in terms of elaborating on the loss of identity, anxiety, and other issues, since loss or unsettled identity can be the cause of deep psychological stresses resulting in various consequences such as different diseases or even social crises which are contrary to sustainability. Therefore, understanding “People are Culture” in terms of who you are and what society and culture you belong to is essential. Moreover, the cultural background and customs that you inherited are highly interconnected with the regulation of the genome in your own body. Thus, the roots of culture provide the new perspective on how humans see their own identity instead of using race or physical and anthropological platforms since the later can produce various misunderstandings among fellow human beings. As Dr. Reich (July, 2022) remarked: “Genetically, “race” is a broken concept as this work shows, because every population is a mixture of other populations—which are themselves mixtures of still earlier populations.”

The material for this week’s posting is provided by Dr. Mira Sartika, an outstanding cultural scholar and cultural geneticist in Indonesia and founder and Director of the Chakra Cultural Foundation there.  Next week’s session (Session15, August 27th.) on Cultural Sustainability will be provided by Professor Benno Werlen, a pioneer in this field and a founder of the Jena Declaration, UNESCO Chair at Jena University in Germany as well as a collaborator in Reconnecting With Your Culture, Germany.

SOURCES:

Jaringan Dokumentasi dan Informasi Hukum Kementrian BUMN. 2021, June 19. Undang-Undang UU Nomor 5 Tahun 2017 tanggal 24 Mei 2017. https://jdih.bumn.go.id/lihat/UU%20Nomor%205%20Tahun%202017; accessed: 2 Jul. 2022

Harvard Magazine (2022, July-August). ‘Telling Humanity’s Story through DNA: Geneticist David Reich rewrites the ancient human past.’ https://www.harvardmagazine.com/2022/07/feature-ancient-dna; accessed: 30 Jul. 2022

Sartika, Mira. The Map of Civilization ― A Geocultural Synthesis. Jakarta, 2015

Sartika, Mira. Cultural Genetics. Jakarta, 2018

D. Paul Schafer, World Culture Project, WCP Website: http://www3.sympatico.ca/dpaulschafer

Soedjatmoko. ‘Culture and Development: A Seamless Web,’ International Conference on Interactions of Development and Culture from Dilemmas to Opportunities. Friedrich Naumann Foundation and the International University Foundation Koningswinter, Federal Republic of Germany, 1987.

@UNESCO (2021, January 10). No society can flourish without culture & no development can be sustainable without it. #IndigenousPeoples are the bearers of unique traditions & knowledge. Join us in upholding their rights & protecting their way of life! #WeAreIndigenous http://on.unesco.org/2Cs6lPW [Twitter Post]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/UNESCO/status/1348041916173185024?s=20&t=ON5NbWG- CD_mPMCOwaHUBg


Culture as a Reality

SESSION 15 – AUGUST 27, 2022

The Cultural Dimensions of Sustainability

Contributed by Prof. Dr. Benno Werlen, UNESCO Chair on Global Understanding for Sustainability, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany

THEME

The challenges facing humanity today are not abstract: the confluence of various global crises is having an immediate and devastating impact on the daily lives of billions of people. Intensification of the frequency and magnitude of storms, floods, droughts, wildfires, and so forth in Europe and elsewhere in the world over the past few years is a pressing and obvious manifestation of this situation. 

The background of these everyday occurrences and information in the news makes it look natural that: first, the dominance of the climate change topic remains unquestioned; second, the encompassing dependence on technical solutions is seen as a must; and third, the primary role of the natural sciences in sustainability issues is not at our disposal.

But despite the strong presence of disastrous natural events in the news, the call for an increase in technological solutions and environmental interventions and budgets is not sufficient. We need to dig much deeper. We need a strategy based on a deep societal transformation of this problem. Such a transformation is obviously only possible if the cultural basis is taken seriously and respectfully into account. That is why I claim that Culture must be at the center of all sustainability issues. To recognize this central role demands, of course, a new point of departure, another point of reference.  

As demonstrated by the recent crises, not least of which is the COVID-19 pandemic, local, everyday practices and routines are the basis of global situations and conditions. Or, speaking more generally, all social as well as all cultural and social realities are comprised of and reproduced through everyday practices, which in turn either constrict or promote sustainable lifestyles and ways of life.

Everyday actions are never merely a purely individual matter. All practices are always shaped by cultural systems of interpretation as well as by social relations. That is to say, they are always culturally shaped, socially embedded, geographically located, and historically contextualized.

This culture-centered point implies and necessitates the need for a radical change or paradigm shift in sustainability policies, research and education. This call for change is a key element of The Jena Declaration (see Session 8 or the link to this Declaration under QUOTES).

Firstly, sustainability is about more than ecology. Much of today’s thinking about sustainability is rooted in the idea that human beings and the natural sphere are somehow opposed – that nature is simply our “environment.” But the opposite is true: With our bodies, we are part of nature! And the way we understand, relate to, and transform nature depends on our cultural backgrounds. Therefore, sustainability is in fact about us as part of nature, guided by cultural methods of interpretation.

Secondly, true change toward sustainability can only be achieved if people begin to change their everyday routines and practices. And this will only be possible through a change in the culture these practices are based on.

Thirdly, sustainability has to be understood as a mindset – a culture that enables us to live sustainably. Here, the voice of the arts is especially important as it can make a powerful contribution in the manner I just mentioned: namely establishing new ways of connecting with the world, and finding sustainable solutions for everyday problems in the most diverse contexts.

This idea leads directly to a fourth point. It is about the deficiencies inherent in currently dominating “top-down approaches.” If you have ever bought a “one-size shirt” fits all people, you know that a single size rarely if ever fits everyone. The same holds true for solutions to achieve sustainability. Top-down approaches that prescribe solutions for all people seldom succeed. On the contrary, we need to find solutions that fit specific conditions and needs in different cultural contexts. Or, more precisely, we need to empower people to develop solutions themselves in the framework of a multitude of cultures.

As a direct consequence of this, we can say – as a fifth major point – cultural and regional diversity should be the starting point for any and all sustainability strategies. Everything people do is locally emplaced, historically situated, and embedded in cultures as omnipresent realities! And even more so: What counts as real is very much culture dependent!

QUOTES

“How we do things depends very much on what they signify to us, how we see the world, and our place in it.” ― The Jena Declaration – https://www.thejenadeclaration.org

“Sustainability needs and produces culture: as a form-creating mode of communication and action, through which value orientation is developed, reflected and changed.” ― Tutzinger Manifesto

“The transition to a globally just, inclusive and sustainable life requires careful alignment with local and regional needs and conditions.” ― Garry Jacobs, President of the World Academy of Arts and Sciences

“The pressing global crises today are cultural and societal rather than purely environmental issues.” ― Benno Werlen

QUESTIONS

― How can humankind move from the age of extraction towards cultures of regeneration?

― What is the role of culture for deep societal transformations?

― How can we mobilize the local sphere in a global perspective?

SOURCES

Werlen, Benno; Kauffman, Joanne; Gaebler, Karsten (2020): Future Knowledge Mobilization for deep societal transformations. In: Canadian Commission for UNESCO (Ed.): Imagining the future of Knowledge Mobilization. Perspectives from UNESCO Chairs, pp. 113-126

Werlen, Benno (2021): What Constitutes Societal Transformations? In: New Perspectives on Major Global Issues, Cadmus Journal, Vol. 5, 203-205


Culture as a Reality

SESSION 16 – SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2022

The Lives, Cultures, and Ways of Life of Other Species

THEME

Thus far, the Culture as a Reality series has been confined to human beings and their cultures. There is a reason for this. Not only are the cultures of humans the most obvious in the world today, but also the planet is headed for a major catastrophe if these cultures are not fundamentally transformed in the future. Clearly, we need to achieve a great deal more sustainability and regeneration in human cultures if human beings are to survive and the cultures of many other species are not to be devastated or destroyed.  

Fortunately, an incredible amount of research and many articles and books have been written and published on the lives, behaviour, ways of life, and cultures other species over the last few decades. This is especially true with respect to the similarities and differences between animal and plant cultures on the one hand and human cultures on the other.

Generally speaking, the consensus on the research seems to indicate that the similarities between all species and their cultures are much greater than the differences. Despite the desire human beings have had for centuries for the differences to outweigh the similarities – largely to dominate other species, take advantage of them in numerous ways, and exercise their “dominion over all species and the earth,” most contemporary research has confirmed that the differences between all species are far less pronounced than previously admitted, and are largely differences in degree and extent and not substance and kind. In the case of animals and humans, for instance, the differences seem to come down to discrepancies in brain size, capabilities, and potential, as well as how the brain evolves over time. In the case of plants compared to animals and humans, it is the ability animals and people have to move, fight, or run, whereas plants remain fixed and must fight because they can’t run.

The reasons for the similarities are obvious. All creatures are living organisms and, as such, are members of one gigantic constellation of “living beings” that share numerous similarities in common, including the life cycle (birth, youth, adulthood, aging, and death), consumption and elimination, living together rather than apart, helping others in times of need or when they are distressed or under attack, communicating in a variety of ways including sounds, signs, languages, and other forms of expression, and creating cultures that share specific traits, habits, behavioural characteristics, traditions, actions, and so forth.

It is now crystal clear that a great deal can be learned from animal and plant cultures, such as trees that create cultures through their root systems and can respond to each other’s needs, and elephants that live in groups, create very distinct and fascinating cultures, are worldly wise, and show a great deal of love and affection for their off-springs and mates. It is hoped that eventually it will be possible to learn a great deal from animal and plant cultures about sustainability, adaptation, and regeneration that is relevant to the survival and sustainability of human beings and cultures as well as the well-being of all species.

QUOTES

“Culture consists of certain biological activities, neither more or less biological than digestion and locomotion… Culture is merely a special direction we give to our animal potencies.”  ― Josć Ortega y Gasset

Instead of making humanity the measure of all things, we need to elevate other species by what they are. In so doing, I am sure we will discover many magic wells, including some as yet beyond our imagination.” ― Frans de Wahl  

“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” ― Rachel Carson

“One must take into account the nature of each being and its mutual connection in an ordered system, which is the cosmos.”  ― Pope John Paul II

QUESTIONS

If human beings eventually achieve sustainability through changes in their cultures, will this be sufficient to ensure the survival and sustainability of all species? What policies do you think governments and international institutions should initiate to prevent the loss of more animal and plant species as well as improve the livability of all species?

Your thoughts on these questions and others like them will be much appreciated and very helpful. Next week’s session will be concerned with The Age of Culture: Why, What, and How?

SOURCES

D. Paul Schafer, ‘The Behaviour and Lives of Other Species,’ Chapter 9, THE WORLD AS CULTURE: Cultivation of the Soul to the Cosmic Whole, pp. 193-211

Franz de Wahl, Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animas Are? (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2016)

Peter Wohlleben, The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They CommunicateDiscoveries from a Secret World (Vancouver, BC and Berkeley, CA: Greystone Books, 2016)

Peter Wohlleben, The Inner Life of Animals: Love, Grief and Compassion – Surprising Observations of a Hidden World (Vancouver BC and Berkeley CA: Greystone Books, 2017)

Stephen Harrod Buhner, Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm: Beyond the Doors of Perception/Into the Dreaming of Earth (Rochester and Toronto: Bear and Company, 2014)


Culture as a Reality

SESSION 17 – SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2022

The Age of Culture: Why, What, and How?

THEME

I believe we should enter a cultural age. This is largely because the economic age we are living in at present is designed to create goods, services, and material and monetary wealth and not designed to come to grips with the vast, vital, multidimensional, and life-threatening problems confronting humanity and the world today. These problems include climate change, global pandemics, colossal disparities in income and wealth, tensions and conflicts between different genders, races, ethnic groups, countries, and cultures, the intermingling of people with very different customs, traditions, and beliefs, and most dangerous of all, the ever broadening and deepening environmental crisis which could eventually spell disaster for human beings, other species, and the earth if it is not overcome. 

Hence the need to enter a cultural age. This will not be possible, however, without taking maximum advantage of the two principal ways of perceiving and defining culture and cultures as “complex wholes” or “total ways of life” of human beings and other species on the one hand, and “the arts, humanities, and heritage of history” on the other hand. The first way is necessary to create the new worldviews, values, value systems, lifestyles, and ways of life that are desperately needed to come to grips with the aforementioned problems. The second way is necessary because most of the activities included in this way make it possible to open the doors to learning about and understanding culture and cultures in the holistic sense due to their symbolic significance and capabilities – a picture is worth a thousand words for example – as well as the fact that these activities are largely labour-intensive rather than material-intensive and therefore don’t make as many demands on the natural environment and world’s scarce resources as most industrial, manufacturing, and technological activities that are mainly product-driven and profit-oriented.

Since culture and cultures are wholes and economics and economies are parts of wholes (which is the biggest mistake made in the economic age because economics and economies have been given priority over the natural environment and everything else), there is an additional benefit to the cultural age that has been ignored in the economic age. It is the ability to see the “big picture,” as well as the potential culture possess to create balanced and harmonious relationships between the parts and the whole. While this is most essential in terms of the relationships between human-beings, the natural environment, and other species as well as the material and non-material or quantitative and qualitative dimensions of life, it is also essential with respect to rich and poor people and countries, the arts and the sciences, technology and society, the public sector and the private sector, and others. Achieving balance and harmony in these areas is the most important goal in the cultural age because it is the key to the health, welfare, and well-being of human beings and other species as well as realizing more peace, safety, security, and sustainability in the world.

In order to enter a cultural age and enable it to flourish, leadership and action will have to come first and foremost from all the diverse cultural communities in the world – most notably the arts, humanities, heritage of history, anthropology, sociology, biology, ecology, and cosmology – as well as  from governments and people from all walks of life and parts of the world. Without this, the cultural age will not be created and the environmental crisis will not be solved.

QUOTES 

“Today, rethinking development is necessary on a world scale. It was believed, not so long ago, that the economy was the base, the infrastructure. That is wrong; historians of the “long history” have shown that the decisive element is culture.” ― Pérez de Cuéllar

“I would therefore define the theory of culture as the study of relationships between elements in a whole way of life.” ― Raymond Williams

“The realities of economic life, of power, or technology, of everything conducive to man’s (people’s) material well-being, must be balanced by strongly developed spiritual, intellectual, moral, and aesthetic values.” ― Johan Huizinga

“We need therefore to constantly reinforce our awareness of the primacy of source, and that source is the universal spring of culture.” ― Wole Soyinka

QUESTIONS

Do you agree that we need to enter a cultural age? If so, why? If not, why not? What do you think are the most important strengths and shortcomings of a cultural age? Are you capable of living in a cultural age in your own life, or must it be created in a collective or global sense before this is possible?

Your thoughts and ideas on these matters will be much appreciated.  Next week’s session – Session 18 – will be on Culture and Spiritualty – Keys to Life and Living in a Cultural Age.

SOURCES

D. Paul Schafer, The Age of Culture: Why, What, and How?

D. Paul Schafer, Out of the Economics Age and into the Cultural Age

D. Paul Schafer, The Age of Culture (Oakville: ON: Rock’s Mills Press, 2014). Foreword by Federico Mayor, Former Director-General of UNESCO.


Culture as a Reality

SESSION 18 – SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2022

Culture and Spirituality: Keys to Life and Living in a Cultural Age

THEME

If two words stand out above all others in the creation of a cultural age and realization of a more sustainable, harmonious, equitable, and peaceful world, surely the two words are culture and spirituality.

As indicated throughout the Culture as a Reality series, seeing the world from the all-encompassing holistic perspective provided by culture and acting on it are imperative to produce the transformational changes that are needed to decrease the demands we are making on the natural environment and ensure that environmental sustainability is achieved in the future. However, real sustainability goes much deeper than this. In order to realize it, it is equally imperative to create the activities that are required to eliminate the vast inequalities that exist in income and wealth throughout the world, treat minorities and oppressed groups with generosity, compassion, equality, and respect, reduce conflicts between different countries, cultures, and civilizations, and reach above and beyond ourselves to create higher goals, values, and ideals for humanity and the world as a whole.

This is where spirituality comes to the fore and asserts itself in earnest. For centuries, we have associated spirituality largely with religion, religions, and religious institutions. Regrettably, this has led to a narrow and limited understanding of this remarkable asset and awesome state. Fortunately, many scholars, mystics, and spiritual leaders have provided us with a broader and more comfortable and compelling understanding and vision of spirituality in recent years. It is an understanding and vision that results from thinking about and treating spirituality in a transcendental way – a way that elevates us, enriches us, inspires us, and gives us the sense that spirituality can be found and experienced in all areas of life. This includes a kind gesture, helping people in need, enjoying exquisite paintings, beautiful flowers, enchanting landscapes, seascapes, and sunsets, memorable music, architectural masterpieces, the world of nature, walking in forests, magnificent and mystical photographs of the cosmos, and so much more.  

It is not surprising in this regard that culture and spirituality are intimately connected and intricately interlaced. This is because spirituality manifests itself most profusely and is experienced most profoundly in all the main materials and domains of culture, from the arts, humanities, and heritage of history to the ways of life of people and their cultures, other species, the universe, the cosmos, and the sublime. To be effective, these perceptions and experiences must now be pushed to the forefront of global development and human affairs and linked with culture and cultures in a vast variety of interesting and stimulating ways.  

QUOTES

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” ― Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

“By having reverence for life, we enter into a spiritual relation with the world.” ― Albert Schweitzer

“A community is in the state of culture when the domination of nature in the material, moral and spiritual realms permits a state of existence which is higher and better than the given natural conditions; and when this state of existence is furthermore characterized by a harmonious balance of material and spiritual values and is guided by an ideal … toward which the different activities of the community are directed.” ― Johan Huizinga

“Spirituality as a science, as a study, is the greatest and healthiest exercise that the human mind can have.” ― Swami Vivekanada

“There is a candle in your heart, ready to be kindled. There is a void in your soul, ready to be filled. You feel it, don’t you?” ― Mavolana Rumi

QUESTIONS

What does spirituality mean to you personally? Do you agree with the intimate connection that is made in this session between culture and spirituality, or do you believe that spirituality transcends culture and cultures? 

Your thoughts and ideas on these matters will be much appreciated and very helpful.  Next week’s session will be on ‘Living a Cultural Life.’

SOURCES

D. Paul Schafer, Culture and Spirituality: Key to Life and Living in the Twenty-first Century

D. Paul Schafer, Cultivating Spirituality: A Necessity for Present and Future Generations


Culture as a Reality

SESSION 19 – SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2022

Imagining, Entering, and Living in a Cultural Age

THEME

I have been imagining what it would be like to enter and live in a cultural age ever since I was in public school. This resulted largely from a presentation I gave to my grade five class on Macro Polo and his trip to China. I was fascinated with his journey along the historic Silk Route from Venice to China and all the diverse peoples and cultures he encountered along the way, as well as all the time he spent in China and other parts of Asia after this. I couldn’t help thinking that the world would be a much better and more peaceful and fulfilling place if people in all parts of the world could have cultural experiences like this and learn as much as Marco Polo and his family members and fellow travellers did from their experiences.

While this presentation led me to thinking about what it would be like to enter and live in a cultural age very early in life, I wasn’t able to write about this until I was in well into my thirties. This occurred when UNESCO published two of my articles on this subject – ‘Towards a New World Order: The Age of Culture’ and ‘The Age of Culture: Prospects and Implications’ – in its journal Cultures in 1976. This intensified much more when I was able to broaden and deepen my knowledge and understanding of culture and cultures very substantially by researching them on a full-time basis and writing about them in earnest at the beginning of the twenty-first century. It wasn’t until then that I began to realize what my good friend, Brian Holihan, meant when he said that it is possible to experience “paradise on earth” by exploring all the diverse and countless cultures in the world (see Session 11 for Brian’s chapter on this). 

Until very recently, it has not been possible for most people in the world to have experiences with culture and cultures like this. However, recent advances in digital technologies and virtual reality have made this possible everywhere in the world. I know this isn’t the real thing, which may bother many people in the cultural field who feel that these experiences are not grounded in reality. Despite this, they are worth having nonetheless, since they enable people to “explore many important aspects and dimensions of cultures” which is the first step towards getting to know cultures in the broader, deeper, and more fundamental holistic sense.

This is also where the imagination comes in. Imagination is the elixir that is needed in our lives to visualize, enjoy, and learn about many things that can’t be seen or experienced in fact, but can still be experienced in our minds, visions, and senses. 

There are many ways of doing this, such as through experiences with the gateways to cultures, such as nature and the natural environment, other species, the arts, sciences, sports, recreation, paintings, films, literature, stories, travel, and so forth. In my case, it has been largely through music. What makes this so essential for me is that music from all the different cultures in the world says so much about these cultures as overall ways of life, as well as creates peak experiences that border on the profound and the sublime.  

QUOTES

“The whole purpose and end of culture is a thrilling happiness of a particular sort – of a sort, in fact, that is caused by a response to life made by a harmony of the intellect, the imagination, and the sense.” ― John Cowper Powys

“You need imagination in order to imagine a future that doesn’t exist.” ― Azar Fafisi

“Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last, you create what you will.” ― George Bernard Shaw

“Everything you can imagine is real.” ― Picasso

“Imagination creates reality.” ― Richard Wagner

“Music is a moral law.  It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.” ― Plato  

QUESTIONS

Do you feel you can learn enough about culture and cultures to enter and live in a cultural age in your mind, imagination, and actions? If so, how does your life differ from those around you? What is your favourite vehicle for living in a cultural age?

Your answers to these questions will be much appreciated.  Next week’s session – Session 20, which is the last of the Culture as Reality series – will provide a brief summary of the entire series as well and probe more deeply into how we can work together to make a cultural age a reality.

SOURCES

D. Paul Schafer, Living a Cultural Life

D. Paul Schafer, The Role of Music in the Development of the Personalities and Lives


Culture as a Reality

SESSION 20 – SATURDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2022

Making the Age of Culture a Reality

THEME

We have reached the end of a long and fascinating journey. We commenced this journey with a statement about what is meant by the age of culture. This was followed by working our way up the cultural ladder (rather than down the cultural ladder): first, by starting with people are culture, culture as the foundation of people’s lives, and the cultural personality; then by examining the role of culture and cultures in the lives of young people, communities, schools, cities, regions, countries, the world, international relations, the cosmos, the roots of cultures, and cultural sustainability; and finally by dealing with a number of crucial matters related to making the age of culture a reality. 

I must confess that I am very excited and optimistic about the creation of a cultural age, despite all the problems, obstacles, and challenges that stand in the way. There are many reasons for this. First, there is the rapidly escalating interest in culture and cultures around the world, which results from the realization by countless people that culture is the “change agent” that is needed in the world to produce transformational, transcendental, and systemic change as indicated earlier in this series. Coupled with this is the “change the culture” movement that is rapidly gaining traction and being manifested by governments, corporations, countless other public and private organizations, as well as the paradigm shift that is going on to see and understand culture and cultures as “the total ways of life” of people, groups, and institutions. These developments confirm the ancient Chinese proverb that states, “the beginning of wisdom lies in calling things by their right name.” It is culture and cultures in this all-encompassing, holistic sense – not economics and economies in the partial sense – that are the real foundations of existence and essence of life on earth.

Added to this is the realization that culture is the key to coming to grips with some of the world’s most difficult and life-threatening problems, most notably the environmental crisis, the necessity for inclusion rather than exclusion, far more income equality in the world, lessening the tensions and conflicts between people, groups, and countries with very different worldviews, values, and customs, and creating peace rather than war in the world. When this is added to the fact that roughly half the world’s population – including all Indigenous peoples and the large majority of people in colonized countries – are involved in connecting or reconnecting with their original cultures rather than the cultures that were imposed on them through colonization – it is clear that culture and cultures are increasingly being visualized and understood as “the cause of change” rather than the “consequence of change” which is imperative going forward into the future.  

While it is imperative for people in general and governments and international institutions in particular to play a proactive role in this, it behooves dedicated and committed people like ourselves who are working in the various areas of culture to light the way and chart the course in this respect. Without this, the age of culture will not be created and we will not be able to claim that culture is “an idea and ideal whose time has come.”  

QUOTES

“Cultures constitutes the topmost phenomenon level yet imagined – or for that matter now imaginable – in the realm of nature. This, of course, does not compel the prediction that emergence into our consciousness of a new and higher plane is precluded.” ― Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn

“Use your imagination to visualize what may be, not what is. Then set your goals, take action, and make what you imagined a reality.” ― Catherine Pulsifer

“The destiny of humans cannot be separated from the destiny of the Earth.” ― Thomas Berry

“The universe is a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects.” ― Thomas Berry

QUESTIONS

Are you in agreement with the claim that culture is the key to charting the path that is most required in the world today and the prerequisite for a cultural age? If so, what developments do you feel are most important to achieve this? How do you think you, your colleagues, and your country could contribute best to this?

Your involvement in this series has been and is deeply appreciated. I hope this has been a useful experience and helpful in your present and future work in your field of interest and involvement.

SOURCES

Mark Riva’s interview with Paul about his work in the cultural field and the World Culture Project.

D. Paul Schafer, A Tale of Two Ages and the Quest to Create a Peaceful, Harmonious, Equitable, Sustainable, and Spiritual World

Thomas Legrand, Politics of Being: WISDOM and SCIENCE for a New Development Paradigm (Auckland, NZ: Ocean of Wisdom Press, 2021)


Be a part of the great conversation! Engage-address-answer-comment-question-suggest…

Please scroll down to our comments section below to join the conversation and engage with the questions from each of these weekly sessions. All participants have a chance to win an autographed copy of Paul’s brand new book, The World as Culture.

5 Comments

  • Mark Riva
    7 months ago Reply

    CULTURE AS A REALITY

    Everyone who responds with an answer to any of the questions posed in this program in our comments section is eligible to win an autographed copy of D. Paul Schafer’s new book, The World as Culture. Please include the question you are addressing in your comment.

    . . . . . . . .

    1. Session One Question: What concrete steps do we need to take in practical terms to achieve this Cultural Age?

    2. Session Two Question: How can people play a practical and proactive role in coming to grips with the dangerous and life-threatening problems that exist in the world today and make it possible for humanity and the world to cross over the threshold to a cultural age in the years and decades ahead?

    3. Session Three Question: Do you agree with the claim that all people live a cultural life as a whole or total way of life in the holistic sense? If so, do you see your own life in these terms now, or do you think this would be a good objective to pursue in the future? And what about creating and living your life as a “harmonious whole?” Is this your principal goal in life or are there other more effective ways of realizing this? If so, how can people avoid slipping into a “disharmonious life” in the sense that they experience a lack of fulfillment, happiness, and good health in their lives? 

    4. Session Four Question: Do you agree that the two personality prototypes – the specialist personality and the economic personality – are the most common today but are breaking down? Is your life at present based on one or both of these prototypes? If so, how have current developments and events impacted on your thoughts and views about your own personality development and that of others? Are you attracted to the idea and characteristics of the cultural personality proposed here, or are you searching for a different kind of personality development and characteristics in the future? And what about this concept of personality types and prototypes in the first place? Do you think they are helpful or harmful going forward into the future and living in a cultural age?

    5. Session Five Question: How much do you know about your community, neighbourhood, village, town, or city as a whole? How involved are you in its daily affairs or engaged in its decision-making processes? Are there things you would like to contribute to your community’s culturescape process and methodology? How concerned are you about the future development and direction of your community and its all-inclusive culturescape?

    6. Session Six Question: How does the situation confronting Black and Indigenous peoples, colonized countries, Ukraine and Ukrainians, and other minority and oppressed groups resonate with your own situation and experiences? Do you require help in preserving, protecting, and reconnecting with your original culture and heritage, or are grandparents, parents, relatives, friends, or community leaders able to help you with this? Are you able to help others in your community or culture who are experiencing problems like this with their problems? How are developments like this proving helpful in enabling you to find the confidence and comfort you need to recreate your own lives in creative, constructive, and rewarding ways?

    7. Session Seven Question: How would you assess your own education in culture and cultures? Was, or is, its non-existence, inadequate, adequate, or more than adequate? What changes would you like to see made in cultural education at present and especially going forward into the future? Did you receive any education in other cultures beside your own? The distinguished Mexican cultural scholar, Antonio Alonso-Concheiro, believes that we can never really get to know or understand other cultures because we can’t transcend our own cultural frame of reference and conditioning. Do you agree with this? If so, what are the implications of this for cultural education and international relations in the future? Do you think a special role should be accorded to the arts in cultural education in the years and decades ahead?

    8. Session Eight Question: What model of development is used in your country to make decisions about key matters at the present time? Would the cultural model of development described here be a more appropriate model for the future? If so, what obstacles stand in the way of using this model, particularly by governments? Is this cultural model shared by people in your area of culture? What do you think is required to convince those in power that this is the right model to use in the years and decades ahead?

    9. Session Nine Question: Have you ever thought of creating a comprehensive culturescape of your own town, city, or regional culture? If so, how would you go about it? Would you do it yourself, or with a group of people at an arts council, cultural centre, art gallery, or museum? What art forms and artistic activities do you think would predominate most in your culturescape?

    10. Session Ten Question: What are the major characteristics and differences between town, city, and regional cultures in your area of the world? Where does your town, city, and region stand in terms of government and governance? How effective is this going forward into the future? What changes are needed in planning policies, decision-making processes, taxation powers, funding formulas, and departmental structures to improve this situation?

    11. Session Eleven Question: What is the situation in your country with respect to developing your culture nationally in holistic terms? What activities, elements, and events best epitomize or symbolize your national culture and what yardsticks and cultural indicators can be used most effectively to do this? Are you interested in undertaking research in this area for your country?

    12. Session Twelve Question: What is your main concern about international relations today? Do you think we need a new system of international relations? If so, how do you think this can be achieved most effectively in your country?

    13. Session Thirteen Question: Where do you feel your country and culture stand in terms of these actual and potential visions of the world and world system? Do you think they can incorporate the insights, wisdom, and understanding of the cultures of the Indigenous peoples and people living in countries like India in time to prevent an environmental disaster? If so, how do you think this can be achieved through a more compelling and appropriate vision of the world and world system?

    14. Session Fourteen Question: Who are you as individuals, as communities, and as part of the environment?

    15. Session Fifteen Question: How can humankind move from the age of extraction towards cultures of regeneration? What is the role of culture for deep societal transformations? How can we mobilize the local sphere in a global perspective?

    16. Session Sixteen Question: If human beings eventually achieve sustainability through changes in their cultures, will this be sufficient to ensure the survival and sustainability of all species? What policies do you think governments and international institutions should initiate to prevent the loss of more animal and plant species as well as improve the livability of all species?

    17. Session Seventeen Question: Do you agree that we need to enter a cultural age? If so, why? If not, why not? What do you think are the most important strengths and shortcomings of a cultural age? Are you capable of living in a cultural age in your own life, or must it be created in a collective or global sense before this is possible?

    18. Session Eighteen Question: What does spirituality mean to you personally? Do you agree with the intimate connection that is made in this session between culture and spirituality, or do you believe that spirituality transcends culture and cultures?

    19. Session Nineteen Question: Do you feel you can learn enough about culture and cultures to enter and live in a cultural age in your mind, imagination, and actions? If so, how does your life differ from those around you? What is your favourite vehicle for living in a cultural age?

    20. Session Twenty Question: Are you in agreement with the claim that culture is the key to charting the path that is most required in the world today and the prerequisite for a cultural age? If so, what developments do you feel are most important to achieve this? How do you think you, your colleagues, and your country could contribute best to this?

    . . . . . . . .

    Many thanks for being part of this informative and organic process. Your comments and contributions to these questions – or others like them – is much appreciated and contributes a great deal to this program and positioning developments like this in their proper place and visualizing the changes that are necessary to recreate the world from a cultural perspective in practical terms.

  • Meg Pier
    6 months ago Reply

    I am delighted to be a part of this Imaginezine conversation with Paul. I think the concept of culture as the basis of life rather than economics is a wonderful aspiration. It may sound idealistic–but that is why its important to share concrete ways to ground the idea and make it real.

    In that spirit, I will ask a question of Paul, Mark, and others:

    If this shift is to happen, how will people earn their livelihoods? What is a catalytic change that could bring about a society where the production, consumption, and transfer of wealth is not the primary driver? And where a holistic way of living that encompasses other dimensions of being human is the “currency”?

    I have some observations on this. I think the internet has tremendous potential to foster greater understanding and connection and inter-dependence. Indeed, I think this is occurring and what’s more, it has galvanized a creative economy of millions.

    However, because of systemic problems in how content is discoverable on the internet, and the arcane knowledge needed to make content discoverable, only people with that knowledge, or the means to hire others who have that knowledge, can share their wisdom, services, art, etc with a broad audience.

    Google’s algorithms present internet searchers with content that very narrowly delivers a specific answer to a specific question. That black and white thinking is very limiting. How does serendipity occur that way?

    So, a means of democratizing the internet so it fulfills its true potential would be catalytic indeed. Facebook and many other social media platforms had that potential–but once they got people’s attention, it became a revenue play.

    I think many people struggle with this reality–and I imagine there are IT minds among them. Perhaps a community of such people could create a forum for building a movement to address this. and to invite Google, Facebook, etc to take a seat at the table. I also see colleges and universities as key players in such a dialogue.

    I look forward to hearing other people’s ideas and suggestions!

    • Mark Riva
      6 months ago Reply

      Meg, it’s great to have you stop by and help kick-start the vital conversation that is critical to initiatives such as IMAGINE and its ‘Culture as a Reality’ program with D. Paul Schafer, which is a fantastic vehicle for connecting people and organizations such as your impressive People Are Culture!

  • Marta Ockuly
    6 months ago Reply

    Thank you for sparking this evocative conversation! When I see the ‘term’ “culture” – it leads me to imagine people who populate this planet- present and future. It also brings up the idea of poverty- lack of access to basic needs and connections between slavery and those who through the accident of birth have access to food security, housing, health care, the best education as well the freedom to pursue what they are inspired to cultivate and share with the world. Add to that wars, religious persecution, droughts, plagues, floods , volcano eruptions, discrimination (gender, sexuality, nationality, religious), and the environmental crisis and it seems to me the term ‘culture’ needs to incorporate inequity along with the potential that exists today on earth. As Maslow noted, human potential cannot be actualized without basic needs being met. I wonder how the traumas mentioned color the conversation about culture moving forward? For me, imagination opens doors, but as we all know, without sustainable sources of funding and deep motivation for personal change by the masses – the best intentions for positive change often hits a very tall and wide wall. We all have the potential to be visionaries. But looking at the current state of disruption around the world – how do each you currently define ‘culture’ at this point in the 21st century? And what might we all begin to imagine?

  • David Paul Schafer
    6 months ago Reply

    There is something that needs to be clarified about the basic difference between the present economic age and a potential future cultural age. It has to do with the putting the highest priority on the whole (culture in the holistic sense) rather than a part of the whole (economics in the partial sense).

    Unfortunately the present economic age was created and developed with little or no consideration given to the whole and therefore the “context” within which economics, economies, and economic growth were and are situated and take place, especially in terms of the natural, historical, human, and global environment. As a result, we are experiencing exceedingly difficult and life-threatening problems today in terms of the environmental crisis, the preservation of the cultural heritage of humankind, treating people as consumers of goods and services rather than as human beings, colossal inequalities in income and wealth, and focusing on western countries and ignoring many other countries and parts of the world.

    It is this problem that makes it imperative to extricate ourselves from the present economic age and enter a new kind of age in the future, since it is not possible as we are finding now to insert the necessary context into the economic age after the fact.

    Most people and countries don’t want to leave the economic age because they think it will mean much lower incomes, losses of jobs and employment opportunities, and far fewer goods and services and less material and monetary wealth and all the benefits that go along with this. In part, they are right. However, the environment crisis has gone on for so long that the entire natural environment will be devastated and the world’s natural resource base will be diminished to the point where living on the planet will become unbearable and unsustainable.

    This need not happen. I believe that entering a cultural age is the most viable and suitable solution to this problem when culture is seen and treated as a complex whole or total way of life because it will provide the context that is required to ensure that future developments in economics and economies are situated properly in a cultural context and therefore take the state of the environment, the treatment of people as peoples rather than generators of economic activity, and all countries and not just some countries into account in all future public and private developments.

    This will unleash new forms of creativity, ingenuity, imagination, and inclusion that will lead to new types of jobs and employment possibilities, more humane and environmentally-sensitive economies, a much better balance between the qualitative and quantitative dimensions of life, many more opportunities in other parts of the world, and different media, technological, and educational developments that are in tune with the new circumstances that are evolving very rapidly in the world today.

    I think this shift is beginning to occur in the world and is being brought on by the systemic cultural changes that are desperately required in the treatment of marginalized and oppressed groups, races, and minorities and the opportunities they have to express themselves and achieve concrete results in personal and collective terms, the search for jobs and employment opportunities that are more fulfilling in nature, greater recognition and awareness of countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East, the quest for new modes of living and exciting forms of artistic, religious, and spiritual expression, more conscious and consistent environmental practices, and many others. I believe this is starting to occur as a result of more inclusive and equitable policies than existed in the past.

    If we can continue in this vein and do it more consistently, consciously, systematically and frequently, as well as admit and come to grips with the contextual mistakes we have made in the past, I believe we can experience a more sustainable, peaceful, and equitable renaissance than a violent, volatile, and devastating revolution in the years, decades, and possibly centuries ahead..

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