What is culture?
Dictionary.com defines culture as such:
1. the quality in a person or society that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellent in arts, letters, manners, scholarly pursuits, etc.
It is also otherwise defined as the behaviors or characteristics of a particular social group.
Culture now is either the excellence you have in matters you get from being educated or from exposure to arts and other groups' culture.
The Devil's Dictionary defines education as
That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.
It is a brilliant definition, as education is a never ending pursuit of knowledge that in the end uncovers nothing more than the truth that we actually know less than we thought we knew.
In my interactions with society I have come across a certain notion that to be cultured is to be privileged. Those who can attend operas, plays, concerts and other artistic displays are considered wealthier than those who do not. Of course this also opens the discussion up to whether or not these people are pansies as seen in the blogs entitled haymen blog ng tunay na lalaki and other "manly" blogs. Regardless of how you view culture and a person's exposure to it I believe that there should be more of culture given out to more people.
It is no longer a question of why should we be exposed to culture and the arts but what kind of culture and the arts we should be exposing ourselves to? I believe that culture and the arts (I'll just lump these together into the term "culture") have a time element. These are products of our human existence and therefore are subject to the ephemeral element of life, that is our culture dies along with us. This is what I think would happen to our current form of bubble-gum culture. Take for example pop-songs and pop-culture, these have no sense of permanency to them as these are being churned out week after week by different faces discussing the same issues blaring the same tune. The opposite of this for me are products of culture that last, an example of man's stab at immortality. Take Beethoven, Luna, Beckett and Twain, their works have lasted for a long time, longer than the current works of art at least.
Of course, I may be wrong with regard to the time element, take the Beatles for example they were regarded as a pop-culture icon then and still their works are still being played and revered.
Indeed it might be likely that the works of Murakami and Britney Spears will end up being referred to as the premier examples of our time's culture. It might happen in the future and I won't feel too bad about it.
Because of the simple reason that all things will age, and some will acquire a veneer of grace and glory of the good old days and some will just be forgotten.
Ultimately it is not merely the time element of culture that will define whether or not it is great but the ability of that work of culture to transcend time and space that will define whether it is great.
A work that evokes the same emotion it did when it was first seen or heard in the 1800's and still does it well into the 2000's should be considered a great work.
Culture for me is not just the ephemeral expression of a group's values in the form of art. It is an expression of a man immortal disregarding the limitations of his flesh to add to the wonders of the universe.
After that lengthy discussion on what culture is and what kind of culture we should consider exposing ourselves to, I move to the grittier topic of what good would culture bring to the youth (and their parents) when made available to them?
I posit that exposing children (or the youth) and their parents to culture would enable societies to appreciate how other cultures are and at the same time allow the youth and their parents to think pragmatically. By opening opportunities for people to see great works of art, we are given the great chance to appreciate the work itself and the context in which the work was created. It grants people a new venue for discussion with other people from different contexts and allows a freer exchange of ideas.
With regard to the youth, especially if culture is incorporated into the education of the youth, the results will be phenomenal. To expose children to the culture of their nation and allow them to enjoy it and treasure it as a great feat. To allow them to compare and contrast their own culture with the wide array of culture humans have created expands and stretches their young and pliable minds to dimensions we could not possibly have imagined.
Of course in order to avoid creating youths distant from their own national culture careful direction must be present, lest the youths forget from whence they came. The national hero Dr. Rizal said that ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makakarating sa paroroonan.
Culture will be essential in shaping the minds of children into a generation of people who can make a nation great and make the world whole.