What is Culture
As an artist, I consider myself to be in the business of culture, which I understand to be growth and development, not the business of making money. But to have cultural growth that will benefit society, I know that making money and culture must develop together.
Culture is a word most of us believe we understand very well. We've heard this word used many times in our lives, and we have used it many times in conversations about ourselves, our way of life, or when we are talking about other people's way of life. We also use the word culture whenever we talk about people from different countries and religions. However, most people today misuse and misunderstand this word, culture.
Culture is the root word of cultivate, and when I say this, the meaning of culture should become a little clearer because most of us understand the word cultivate to have something to do with growing or developing something. The true definition of culture is growth and development, and if this is true, any way of life that does not bring about growth and development can't be considered culture.
In our conversations today, what we mistake for culture should be classified as people's traditions, customs, rituals, and even superstitions that different societies have adopted over many generations for various reasons. Just because a community of people practices something daily does not mean that this serves their growth and development. To begin understanding the problems we face in our individual lives and our societies today, we must start studying the difference between culture, traditions, customs, rituals, and superstitions versus religion. We must learn the difference between what is helping us from what is hurting us and why.
The Culture of Science or Superstition
When people study the laws governing our world, they will accumulate a lot of information to pass on to the next generation. Then, the next generation wouldn't have to start at the same point as the previous one. This process of growth and development is the concept that we have today with the modern university. When someone goes to a university, they will learn everything accumulated on the subject of their interest so that they wouldn't have to start from the beginning. They would only need to start where the last age left off. Our modern-day society developed on this cultural system of scientific growth and development. If you had the formula for any scientific discovery, you would get the same results no matter how many times you experimented with it. The recipe will not do one thing for one person and another for someone else. God doesn't need science because all He needs to do to create anything is say be. However, our development through the knowledge of science has given humanity a way to manage the world.
Conversely, a society that believes in magic and superstitions cannot pass their knowledge down to the next generation to develop further. It's not like in the movie Harry Potter where they had a book of potions where they could get the same results every time one cast the same spell.
Many people believe that the many problems we see in Africa today result from the African slave trade, and we blame it all on the white man. But I believe Africa's problems are based on them clinging to a cultural belief in superstitions and magic from their past. Furthermore, I know that the white man did not give them their belief in magic. Some African Americans want to reconnect to Africa, its history, and past great civilizations to solve black people's problems here in the United States today. However, we don't need to go back into the past to find success by taking on the customs and traditions of a people long gone. If we start practicing customs and traditions of a people from the past, we may be bringing back some of the very things that got them in trouble with God in the first place.
For example, I want to tell you about when I visited the city of Dakar, Senegal, West Africa, to participate in an art show with many other African American Artists. I was fascinated by the beautiful sights and people I saw and met there, and I could hear the call to prayer from anywhere in the city five times a day. I considered all of this a beautiful experience, but something else happened.
My African tour guide told me that he could take me to an Islamic leader and receive a blessed pouch from him that had pages from the Holy Quran in it. He said that this pouch would protect me from harm if I wore it around my neck. Also, he said that if I were in a plane crash, I would be the only one to be blessed to survive. Furthermore, if someone tried to shoot me with a gun, the bullet would not hurt me. I told this person that I was sorry, but I could not accept that gift because this was not my belief in religion. Most of the Muslim men I talked to in Dakar tried to convince me that their form of Islam is better than others because they believed in magic, but I did not see it that way. I was also shocked when I realized that most men wore all types of pouches under their clothes to protect them from the many things they feared. While I was hearing and seeing all this, I realized that there were no superstitious beliefs in me and that they could not sell me on their ideas about magic or their superstitions. After realizing this, all sorts of thoughts from the past started bombarding my mind. For example, the white man took away my Africa, my language, and I know nothing about my past people. I realized that God had separated me from their beliefs in magic through my ancestor's journey through slavery here in the United States. Then I began to reconsider everything that I believed and thought to be true from that point on.
I understand now is that all we need to do to become the most successful people on earth is to be the first to come back to obeying God as righteous people. Then, God will bless us to live a victorious life here on earth that no other people in history have ever lived. Plus, we will find God's promise true in the hereafter, where we will live forever in Heaven.