An Essay: “Cultures of the World”


Date: 1-1-2004


There are many cultures of the world, but there is no singular culture with which one could classify all of humanity.  This is due to the fact that the definition of culture is a collective one based on many different aspects of social and communal human behavior.  A culture is a collection of traits and characteristics that a group of people have in common and are able to pass down to successive generations.  There are things that humans have in common, but it is not enough to categorize it as a culture of humanity. 

            There are things that all humans share, and these are very important because they are what make us humans and separate us from other earthly creatures.  Characteristics such as the capacity to show emotion, and the desire to have basic needs met are shared by all of humanity.  All humans cry, and have the ability to show anger and joy.  A smile is a smile no matter what part of the world one is from.  Every human needs shelter, food, and companionship.  Without the fulfillment of these needs the population would suffer dearly.  Core characteristics such as these are the beginning of what could create a world culture.  But these basic human traits in themselves cannot be a culture; it’s not that simple.  Culture is multi-dimensional, and deals not only with human behaviors but with the institutions and products that humans create. 

If you look around the world and view the different people on this earth with their variety in language, customs, diet, and physical attributes it would be very easy to say that the diversity present in the different cultures clearly illustrates that there could not possibly be a world culture.  This has come about through the separation and evolution of our species over the ages. 

Taking a neutral side to the debate on whether it was evolution vs. whether it was the creation story; let’s just say there was a beginning of what we today call the human race.  From there the movement of the human species away from each other exposed us to different climates, terrains, environments which caused changes in our very character.  Over time this separation and lack of communication has created the cultures of the world that we see today.  The variety of different human characteristics only further reinforces the idea that there is no single world culture.

Religion and the Arts lend themselves especially well to this argument.  Religion, be it Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, etc., plays a major role in the way that people act toward one another and toward the world.  People’s beliefs based on religion and spirituality effect their everyday lives and experiences.  The Arts are much the same.  The styles, techniques, and reasons for creating art, music, and theater vary the world around, and are products of the people’s environment and abilities.  Even if you set these differences aside there are still more important differences that inhibit the sharing of a world culture.  Language and dialect create barriers that make it difficult to communicate and benefit from the giving and receiving of information.  It is not possible to share in a culture of the world when facing a language barrier that keeps you from communicating your emotions and needs.

With all of this said, and the differences pointed out, who would want it any other way?  The differences are what make life interesting and what make this world such a diverse and wonderful place.  It would be very dull if we all shared the same or similar characteristics, traits, and language.  Variety is what makes life pleasurable; it is what will make a world tour worth while.  It wouldn’t make sense to spend the money and time to travel the world to see places and people just like the ones around where you live.  Although these differences have been a source of tension and conflict in the past, it will be increasingly important that we learn in the future to celebrate these differences and recognize their importance.

The idea of a world culture is not an easy concept to grasp because of the diversity that is present in the human race.  With a basic look at human behavior and human needs one can begin to experience the similarities of humans to one another.  But once you move beyond that and take a look at what humans have created with their environments you can see the cultural diversity that has spread over the face of the earth.  It is a blessing that we can be inspired to travel the world to seek new and different experiences. 

In a day and age where one can pick up the phone or connect to the internet and contact a person half way around the world, it will become very important that we remain aware of our cultural differences and celebrate them.  It is ok to share the basics of what makes up a world culture, but the human race needs to continue as a collection of cultures around the world.  There might be a day where communication and technology will allow us to develop something closer to a world culture than we have today, but I sincerely hope that we never forget that having a collection of cultures of the world is what makes life on this earth so amazing.