Culture v culture

All my life I've been at war.

I mean my nation has never in all that time been without feeling the need to fight under arms, invariably on foreign fields. Like all of us I have tried hard to cut through the zeitgeist rhetoric and to pin down the reasons for this strange desire to inflict hurt on others far from home.

At the age of 76 and courtesy of the moguls of cyber space perhaps I'm allowed to state my conclusions here, bearing in mind a due observation of the Laws, naturally. These, then, are they ...

Whether we like it or not all we humans are, each one of us, genetically a part of a culture. Call it race, call it tribe,call it nation, it's still a culture; i.e. a way of thinking and behaving that has been allowed to develop naturally over a few or many many generations; the more generations the stronger the culture. The fact that our or anyone else's culture is linked to a piece of planet earth called a country is in my view a long way secondary. One of my poems says 'This land is no more mine or yours than once it was the dinosaurs'. True? Of course. Our species, as all others, is here today gone tomorrow whereas 'our' division of land that we call a country is as it is and as it was for millions of years longer than us. It is just where the bulk of our culture is situated at least for now.

Of course all human cultures change over time given their, however reluctant importation of 'foreign' minority cultures. I myself am happy to be a part of that, being an immigrant in the Highlands of Scotland. But we call our nationality 'by birth', i.e 'by genetic inheritence', as English or Scottish or British or Bangladeshis or Chinese or American (or Native American) or Australian or whatever. Any one of the above or the hundreds of others - but not more than one.

We believe intrinsically, whether or not our culture allows us to say so, that our own culture is best - at least for us and at most, we suppose, for others. It is this 'at most' which is where the warfare begins. And it is this culture of ours that we believe is worth preserving and/or promulgating with our lives. It's why we are in Afghanistan. Some fellows in London say out loud that if we weren't there under arms the bad guys would be here under arms. Because we don't like their culture we believe they will try to destroy ours. Really? Does anyone truly believe that hundreds of our young lives lost, thousands more wrecked and a great slug of our nation's fast dwindling wealth dissipating hourly is worth that theory? And this alien culture we're trying so hard and with such little hope to conquer - it's 'bad' because it will not share our cultural values and because it is awfully unwilling to subjugate its own? Come on, let's start being sensible.


Of course because the culture of which we are each a part is geographically transportable the British and the the Jews, for instance, have historically been effective in transporting themselves (a.k.a. their cultures). Both have colonised half the globe over the few hundred years past. Pakistanis and Indians and Latin Americans are fast catching up. Plenty more fuel for shooting matches there, one would suppose.

My novel Going with Gabriel morphes, two thirds of the way through, into a world where wars are not possible because all groups are kept apart and are genetically mixed and becasue each lives under voluntary rules unique to themselves and not to any one culture / race / nation / tribe. That is of course a touch of Bryan Islip romantic idealism. I was not the first. At least three others came before me with it: Socrates, Wordsworth, Coleridge. Probably plenty of others too.

But if there's ever going to be a stop put to this madness of ever-escalating humanity and ever-escalating warfare between humanity someone has to come up with answers that meld the cultures and unify all the rules of human life on mother earth. Someone or something. I think so anyway, whether John Galliano agrees or not.

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