Cultural Universals

My wife and I have just spent a working weekend in Athens, giving a talk and demonstration about healing to a wonderful group of people, who no doubt are mostly parents.

After the talk, our hosts took us to a Greek restaurant, and we listened to a couple of Greeks singing traditional songs and playing [wonderfully] guitar and bouzouki. Our hosts, and most of the diners, got up and did their versions of Greek dances. Fabulous.

Elsewhere in the city, we saw the creeping, toxic effect of a universal culture. Teenagers eating fast ‘food’, clothed like American college students, and adopting ‘cool’ [arrogant, zombied, brain-dead] expressions.

Every culture has its good points. For reasons too long to go into, Greek culture is one I adore. There are many aspects of British culture I like. Ditto Russian, Asian, Native American and Irish culture. Contemporary, commercial US culture, that which saturates the media and every aspect of our waking lives, has no tradition, no roots, no substance. It is manufactured, corrosive and has a dangerous agenda.

As a parent, what can you do? Ban or sensor fast food, [c] rap, gum, violence, ‘celebrity’, vacant expressions and Hannah Montana? We all know this is the quickest route to turn kids on to it.

How about embracing what’s good about all cultures? Multi-culturalism has become a cliché, a mantra. The best of it can inspire and educate, the worst of it, divide.

You cannot escape the creeping paralysis induced by all this by switching off the television, or not reading papers. It is in your supermarket, in your trolley, on the street, in your kid’s heads, and on most people’s lips.

I no more want a Billy Burger ‘joint’ at the Taj Mahal, the Parthenon, the Arc de Triomphe, Stonehenge or the Giant’s Causeway than I do the aspartame, MSG, fat, sugar and salt in our kids’ bodies. Or the images of ultra-violence, or lyrics of some phobic song in their heads.

How is reality created in your child’s mind? I think you know. What will you do about it? Because they are worth it.

Jack Stewart