Cultural Pollution

‘Cultural’ implies pertaining to customs, beliefs, art and all the other products of human thought made by a particular group of people at a particular time. Culture provides a sense of identity; it defines who you are and maintains a sense of belonging. It validates our reason for being in this world, defining where we are headed in our lives. Cultural rules influence people to behave similarly, making it easier for them to identify with each other. It shapes attitudes, thinking, behavior and values. It is also normative, defining the standard for judging values and behavior.

Culture is also one of many things that are not the same throughout. It varies with community distanced by colour, creed, and geographical distribution.

True to its literal meaning, cultural pollution is the defilement of culture. However, what is to be considered as cultural pollution is very much subjective and depends on one’s own perspective.

Pop culture blazed the 1960’s in America; teenagers thronged shopping malls and donned flashy attires. Sleek cars, drag races, beer guzzling, Pop-soda and groovy tunes were some of many traits of this newborn culture. Clearly this newborn culture was a hit among the youth. But what was the adult’s opinion in this matter?

What did they make of this new defeaning music their children called ‘Rock N Roll’?

Surely this mass hysteria was beyond acceptance. To them this was cultural pollution and it was corrupting the youth. Despite much protest from parents, pop culture was here to stay. Within the American culture, a subculture had made its presence known – pop culture had been initiated, accepted and established.

During the onset and establishment of pop culture, both factions (the adults and the teenagers) were opinionative. The adults considered this newborn culture corruptive and a nuisance. In the meanwhile, the subversive and rebellious nature of pop culture fueled young souls.

Culture is very much related with religion. Religion is key in the definition of a race or a group of people following a certain creed. It introduces certain criterion, which depicts what is morally acceptable and what should be avoided on moral grounds. Deviation from such norms is not acceptable by the ethnic majority and is often followed by condemnation. But it is the senseless pursuit of fundamentalism that is mind-boggling. Extensive patronage of dogmatism and religious fanaticism often makes the practitioner do the unimaginable. This often results in fanaticism – practitioners going beyond strict adherence to their faith. An action under such an influence is radical and very much fundamentalist in nature irrespective of its inane or inhumane nature.

Under the Taliban regime, the Afghan people were not allowed to watch television or take photographs, the women were constantly shrouded in ‘burkas’ with very little of their body exposed. Women were also denied education and basic human rights. By state law, all men were supposed to grow beards. Any sort of defiance was punishable by amputation or by death before the public. According to the Taliban, this sort of enforcement was observed to maintain proper Islamic discipline. Their goal was to attain true Islam. To us bystanders such actions are acts of extremism and are inane and inhumane. Their practice outrages most of us because it is different from what we are accustomed to and what we believe in. To us, this sort of fanaticism observed to the extremes is ‘cultural pollution’.

The destruction of the pre-Isalmic artifacts in the Bamian valley by the Talibans outraged the world. The creative dynamism of the world’s tallest standing Budhha had been nullified. The international community stood helpless as the Talibans fired cannons at the living heritage. This was ‘cultural genocide’. Rather for the Taliban this was ‘purification’. The Taliban rationale behind this deliberate damage to the world heritage was very simple; their religious books forbade human resemblance.

Any culture that suppresses, oppresses, undermines another culture, or is different from another culture is very much criticized by other communities. And yet all ethnic factions exercise full potential to prove their ideological superiority.

NB: Submitted for an assignment in my second year of college for a communication course.