Culture

Culture is the collection of expectations and agreements which shape who we are to be in any given context. Whenever we start a new job, we check to see what other people are wearing. Do we really have to be here on time? What happens if we call in sick? Do people expect everyone to go out to eat at lunch, or is there a lunch room, or do people eat at their desks? These are all perceptions which arise in the Interpersonal or relational realm.

We are all members of many different cultures. There is the family we grew up in, the religious institution where we worshipped, the schools we attended, the kids we hung out with, the pacts we made with our friends, the festivals our community celebrated. Every relationship defines a culture. Often we will only use the term culture to mean ethnicity or country of origin, and certainly those cultures are very powerful at shaping our identity and our behavior, but a culture is the container of expectations we create as we construct relationships.

There is another meaning for the term culture we often hear. Any longstanding community has forms of artistic expression which help to communicate the expectations and values which form the culture. Thus the cuisines, the graphic art, the music, the literature, the dress, the dialect are all expressions of the culture (art) of a given culture (community).

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