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Individual Perspective

“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots” – Marcus Garvey

Culture is important for the development of personal identities as it enriches our personal lives extensively. This is due to culture being what surrounds us all the time, what we immerse ourselves in.

 

Why must we have a cultural identity?

Cultural identity is important because it cultivates a sense of belonging. Being part of a larger community, social cohesion should be fostered through a common identity as it enriches our lives. Cultural identities shape our beliefs which are reflective of who we are and how we live our lives. An example would be how because Singapore is made up of people of all different races and religion, we have developed a common language, Singlish, which is a mix of all the different languages.

 

How our culture affects our values and behaviours?

Culture shapes our moral values such that we are able to discern right and wrong which in turn affects our behaviour. Culture serves as an important feature to impart moral values through traditions and ritualistic practices that have been passed down from generations to generations. Although culture may be viewed upon by some, especially by the youths as archaic and outdated, it is important to retain and preserve culture given its longstanding role of moral education. One such example would be how in Asian countries, respecting the elderly is heavily emphasised, hence we always do try to do what we can for them.

GP Essay on Individual Perspective – Why should we preserve our cultures and traditions?

This article is the 2nd segment of a 5-part series covering Culture. To ensure seamless reading, you may wish to start from the first segment of ‘How is Culture important?’

 

Culture and traditions are a huge component of what makes different country, race or religion unique. While there are Chinese New Year celebrations for the Chinese, where they wear new clothes to visit homes of loved ones, receive or give out red packets, and even get Lion Dancers to go over to their place, the Malays, Indians and other races also do have their own traditions. This however brings up the topic of debate, why should we preserve our cultures and traditions. One school of thought is that we should not preserve our cultures and traditions while another school of thought is that we should preserve our cultures and traditions. This essay will be more inclined to the second school of thought.

 

Cultures are hindrances to societal progress

Pragmatists will hold the view that we should not hold onto our cultural heritage and traditions if these inherited rituals and norms are going to be hindrances undermining the progress of our modern society. If cultural attributes, main or sub-aspects, are undermining the society from moving forward for progress and development, these attributes should be eradicated and modified for the betterment of the society in the future. In Singapore, we have seen how our founding father, Lee Kuan Yew’s realistic strategy to abandon the need to preserve our dialects as he advocates the use of the Chinese and Mandarin as our written and spoken language, seeing as the pivotal way to unify the Chinese community and forge closer ties with China. We have also seen how many known buildings like Great World Amusement Park being abolished and make way for modern development. Hence, the need for the progres or betterment for the society will render this need to uphold cultural preservation.

 

Culture as a form of identity preservation

With the world becoming more and more homogenous today, we need to continue clinging on to our culture and tradition, so that we do not all become all the same. However, this is already happening, with people listening to music catered for other races, or music by other races. For example, with the KPop wave, people are inspired to look just like the Korean stars. One such way is how the korean air bang is highly popular now among ladies. Hence, in order to preserve individuality, we should still keep our culture and tradition so that we do not lose track of who we are.

 

Culture as reference for ethics and morality

Culture is also of great imperative for individual to uphold cultural heritage and tradition as it is a source of reference for their sense of beliefs and values. In a complex and challenging global world, we need a depth of knowledge for us to solve our dilemma in the way we live our lives and our cultural background will provide the reference to make sound and ethical decisions, enabling us to act ethically and sensibly with the right social protocols. In Japan, respect towards the elderly is heavily emphasised in their culture. This translates to the Japanese being very respectful to the elderly, often doing more than what people of other cultures would do to for them.

 

In conclusion, while there are arguments for why culture and tradition should not be preserved, there is a stronger argument for why culture and tradition should be preserved. Hence, as there are ways to work around the reason for why culture and tradition should not be preserved such as by finding alternatives, culture and tradition should be preserved.

How else is culture important?

Culture is important because it influences the way we live our lives in terms of the way we interact (social), the way we work (economic), the way we behave (individual), and the way we govern (political). Read on to find out more!

 

Social

Culture affects the development and maturity of modern societies as it determines how people interact with one another. Culture can impact countries from the social perspectives because it can either make or break a country’s cohesiveness. In Singapore, because we have a culture of being multiracial, there is a common understanding that it is okay to be a country made up of different races, and that everyone are equals. This then ensures that the country keeps its unity.

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Economic

Culture also shapes the way we engage in work-related activities. For example in Japan, because there is a lot of stress on people to perform well in their jobs so that they can keep it and can continue climbing up the corporate ladder, workers are expected to work extremely hard, often working overtime to meet deadlines and do more than what is expected of them. Hence, culture can influence countries from the economic viewpoint because in the case of Japan, with extremely driven workers, the workforce will be productive.

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Political

Culture also affects the political stability of countries because cultural differences are potential sources of conflict and division. This can also then threaten the political unity of governments. For instance, some white Americans typically consider raised voices to be a sign that a fight has begun, while some black, Jewish and Italian Americans often feel that an increase in volume is a sign of an exciting conversation among friends. Thus, some white Americans may react with greater alarm or take offence to a loud discussion.

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Founder and GP Tutor Simon Ng of GeneralPaper.com.sg is one of the pioneering GP Tutors and has tutored many JC students to achieve academic excellence in General Paper for GCE A Level. He has written many articles on the subjects of General Paper, JC Economics, Management of Business and Marketing. Mr Ng is also known for his coaching in the field of Study Skills for primary, secondary and junior college level.

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