Christian Long

Phil Borges: Endangered Cultures

In TED Talks on April 21, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Reflection by HERSH T.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Phil Borges:  Endangered Cultures

What will happen when we are all of one culture?

One of the most devastating yet overlooked problems of our common day. And yet, even though some people are aware of these dying cultures, they do not care enough to try and help in ways that could significantly affect the problem.

Of course, to understand the problem we must first truly grasp what a culture is. According to a culture is the sum total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings and transmitted from one generation to another. Now, in plain English, a culture is what makes every single different set of humans unique. Why does one group of humans not eat this? Why do these people wear this? What is the point of waking up at this time? These questions are echoed by many people when they discover a new culture. And to most open-minded people, the creativity and just rarity of different cultures is astounding.

Culture provokes a feeling of belonging.

All humans are insecure deep down. And the one thing that cures insecurity more than anything else is knowing that you belong somewhere. Culture does this, and it does it in such a seamless way that people are often not even aware that they have been so utterly and irreversibly affected.

Mr. Borges talks about several small and incredibly diverse cultures throughout the world in rather undeveloped regions that are in danger of being extinguished. What will happen when we are all of one culture? The total uniformity of all people would be incredibly catastrophic. What happens when we lose that which makes us unique? The different cultures throughout the world give us some perspective as to the evolution of man and as to how we as an intelligent thinking people developed our beliefs. The vast diversity of humanity allows us to be capable to handle almost any problem as well as enjoy the earth the way, one can say, earth was supposed to be enjoyed.

In our current day we do not give culture or other such fanciful ideas the time of day. The world is based on a competitive market based consumer market. We do not care for what people think or how they feel. Now, this is not a blog demanding we all go back to our ancient roots and hunt for bare survival but simply that at a certain point we must take a step back and look at where we are. We are on the edge of not only the greatest human accomplishments but also the greatest human wrongdoings.

The advent of the computer and internet age has made information much easier to access, however, if that information is not there in the first place, what can we access?

Mr. Borges closes with a resounding point. That when a study with 18 to 23 year olds was conducted testing geographic knowledge, 70% could not find Afghanistan or Iraq, 60% couldn’t find India, and 30% could not even locate the Pacific Ocean. This is not just about endangered cultures; this now moves us into the area of indifference.

Indifference is worse that hatred.

If a country hated a culture that affected it negatively than by persecuting it, the country would make that culture resound in history. If a culture is not cared about, than it will have no imprint on history and/or the earth. I am not pardoning the rather lackluster geographical knowledge of our young adults, but rather condemning their indifference toward these cultures or areas.

To preserve these cultures, we must first make people care.


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