There are elements of any culture that are “on the edge.” These are things we’re redefining in order to evolve. In our culture, we’re in the middle of a couple of centuries of transformation around gender and race. We’re creating a new cultural matrix for these concepts–even perhaps letting go of some of these concepts as important to us. You can see these kind of cultural conversations on the news almost daily—the debate over gay marriage, Wendy Davies defending abortion, the hullabaloo over whether a woman can run Yahoo! (Please.)
These cultural debates aren’t ivory tower–they effect us all on a daily basis. As an example, if you’re a female like I am, you have to work within a cultural environment that partially developed to treat you as a piece property, not as a person. People that come to you with “traditional” values based on seeing women as more property than person are not evil—they are just accepting the cultural blue print. In general, cultural blue prints are adaptive, positive things for the survival of our species. The problem is, culture can be maladaptive, too. For women and many minorities today, our culture needs work.
All of the qualities of a great horse 150 years ago are what’s valued in women: gentle, obedient, well trained, breedable, and of course, beautiful. On the other hand, many of the values associated with independence are taken out of our mental reach and associated with males–like power, freedom, might, ambition, etc.
As I’ve looked for negative values in our culture that hold me back, I weed them out like thistles in my inner garden. Doing this consciously for many years has left me feeling lighter, happier and more in control. I don’t blame the culture, or the people who unconsciously promote it. I understand we as a species are not so much individuals as a collective. Leaders, thinkers and entrepreneurs are by nature on the fringe—the innovators.
Do you know who you are, or who you are versus who the culture tells you to be? Culture is part of who we are, but…fortunately…it can be managed consciously. Do you have some favorite ways of managing your own inner culture, or separating yourself from messages from the outside culture you don’t like?