Can we really say that we are conscious of our duties and responsibilities toward our culture? Do we know what are involved in this task? In our life’s continuing struggle for meaning, culture is one of the main fronts to attend to.
A cursory look around would indicate that there’s hardly any deliberate effort to take care of our culture. It is somehow presumed that we have a culture, but we are quite ignorant of how caring for it has to be carried out.
First of all, we need to understand its nature and character. It has both objective and subjective dimensions, spiritual and material aspects, global and local scope, etc. More importantly, it has both passive and active parts, and we need to know how to handle its many requirements.
We cannot be totally passive in our attitude toward it, though we cannot help but be receptive to it in our daily life. That’s because culture is like the air we breathe. This time, though, we need to realize that we also have a role to play in creating that air, or at least in purifying it and putting it in conditions proper to us.
We just cannot allow culture to grow on its own. It needs our intervention. We have to understand that culture, like everything else in our life, is both a gift we receive and a project we have to do and develop.
Especially these days when the pace of development is getting faster and more complex, there’s now a greater need for us to take fuller responsibility over it. We have to do things in such a way that we can say we make our own culture, even if culture also to a certain extent makes us.
Our problem now is that we seem to be falling for a mindless lifestyle of activism, guided mainly by values that are not deeply rooted enough on our true human dignity. In fact, this reference of what our true human dignity is has become impertinent to many people.
For many of us, the main principle that shapes our lifestyle seems to be pragmatism, and all its cohortsâ€”popularity or fame, wealth and power, vanity and pride, etc. The inputs of faith and religion, so indispensable in figuring out who we really are, that’s supposed to be basis of our culture, are hardly considered.
We need to correct this anomaly. We have to dismantle the so-called tyranny of relativism that a priori disposes anything that has to do with religion. That’s unfair. That’s completely undemocratic.
With this defective attitude, we cannot help but generate a thoroughly secularized culture that is allergic to spiritual and supernatural realities. That would compromise the flowering of a culture that is proper to us.
That is why these days, many people find it hard to relate what they are doing professionally, socially, politically, etc., to God. Their activities do not bring them closer to God. In fact, the reverse is true. Their activities bring them farther away from God.
There ensues a growing awkwardness in our relation with God. Religion becomes frozen in some formalistic rituals and customs, emptied of its vital substance.
With that predicament, what can we expect? For sure, the temptations to deception, injustice, etc., cannot be avoided. The stronger ones in worldly terms simply dominate the others. Our weaknesses, like our laziness and our concupiscence, cannot be properly addressed and healed. They tend to fester.
We need to create a culture that is proper to us as persons and ultimately as children of God. It is a culture that embraces both the spiritual and material dimensions of our life, our temporal affairs and eternal goal. Nothing less is needed.
For this, we need to help one another. The creation and development of culture is a universal concern. It has to involve all of us. Thus, we need to be more aware of what we call here as the cultural front of our life’s struggles. We should avoid being indifferent to it.
At the moment, we can ask for example if we know how to place this new phenomenon of the Internet technology in the pursuit of developing a culture proper to us. Has our fascination for it led us closer to God and to the others? Has it built up more solidarity, justice, and charity? (By Fr. Roy Cimagala)