Culture and Communication


Every culture and communication is different.  Each genre of species has a language that works for them. There was a perfect display in my backyard the other day. Not only was the intent of the big tom turkey clear to me, but it was evident that the hens knew precisely what he was communicating. He fully fanned his tail and strutted, even doing a little dance. It’s spring, after all, and mating time for turkeys. His communication received various responses from his audience, from one that was quite interested to various levels of maybe and not now.

Humans are no different. Children learn the socially agreed-upon “languages” of their elders as they grow up. Some of those are more universal than not. Since moving to the south after living “up north” all my life I have learned there are not only differences in accents, but in what certain words mean and how they are used. That is also true of what is considered “polite” in a variety of situations. Of course, different areas have varying cultures and communication.

Respect is the bridge that can hold us together
despite our differences.

Today our communication has expanded easily to the entire world—from sign language to the internet and a huge variety of social media platforms.

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Early “Hand Talk”

Consider an old but clear example, that of the “hand talk” of Native Americans.  Another example of culture and communication.  “Using the hands and four basic factors—location of hand, movement, shape, and orientation—people from 37 oral languages reaching across 12 language families in an area of 1 million square miles of the North American continent could effectively communicate.” Gregory Hartley and Maryann Karinch.  However, when Spaniards and others came their “sign” language was totally different and learning to communicate with the Native Americans took time, mistakes and much effort.

Expanding World

Today our communication has expanded easily to the entire world—from sign language to the internet and a huge variety of social media platforms. If one doesn’t work well for your group you can simply choose another. There are open and closed methods, those to not only read, but hear and see the person you are communicating with; cultures are no longer separated by distance or geography. Despite these advances, widely different cultures remain.

Refugees—physically moving from one culture to another—add a multitude of possible changes. As they mix in/assimilate/share their own cultures on a reach-out-and-touch level, they add diversity from dress and diet to ideology and tolerance. We have the real opportunity to add new ideas and ways of doing things, choosing to not just be teachers but also learners and in the process stretch and grow.

Communication and Cultures Evolve

We can choose to make it as smooth as possible for ourselves and others while holding to basic values and making room for new ways of living out those values. While evolution of culture—within our own neighborhood or across the globe—is inevitable, we need to clearly understand our differences. In addition, we must choose carefully the changes we are willing to assimilate, and at the same time respect others enough to keep peace.

There are some who would like to see us all the same . . . but, whose way is best? Is there a best? There are cultures that exist in a vacuum, that are unwilling to look at ways of living other than their own. Others choose a more open view where choice and freedom to choose are the normal. These cultures will clash—but hopefully they will test and try new ideas and choose those that work and discard those that don’t. Communication and cultures evolve.

Respecting Differences

Perhaps the underlying girder that will hold culture together as it stretches and grows and evolves is respect. We will never all agree; let’s accept that. What we do with that fact in all the ways we communicate will determine if we can live together in peace. How? Respect is the bridge that can hold us together despite our differences.

Respect is esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person or their beliefs. I don’t even have to like what you stand for if I choose to respect your position because you are a person with free choice. When I give you that gift, and you give me that gift, we are equal whether we agree or not.

Here’s to joy in our differences,

Ardie Gallant

Some portions drawn from article by Gregory Hartley and Maryann Karinch.

#Communication #Culture #Respect #OhMyArts

Oh my! Arts Respect can only be earned t-shirt
Oh my! Arts RESPECT Can Only be Earned T-shirt

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