Having called it a night early, I was in bed that Saturday when I received an unnerving phone call at midnight from someone I had almost entirely erased from my life. There was music blaring on the other end of the line, conjuring an image of a party in my mind, and I thought it might be a drunk dial. I was about to hang up when he started speaking. I could not immediately figure out who it was, but when he said his name, my heart immediately fluttered, to my annoyance. We had not acknowledged each other’s existence for over two months since the last time we had had sexual contact; now here he was asking me out for a drink at a bar near my college campus so we could “catch up”.
What happened between this individual and I prior to our hiatus was a critical experience that subsequently caused me to question and re-evaluate my values and expectations of relationships. My ultimate realization is how predisposed I had been, and possibly still am to some degree, to the hook-up culture that is so pervasive among modern adolescents and young adults in North America, particularly in a college or university setting. The concept of the Hook-Up Culture has taken media by storm and has become an oft-enthused about topic, particularly for popular lifestyle magazines and blogs aimed at persons between the ages of 17 and 25; the ages over which adolescence can range. In all this enthusiasm, Hook-Up Culture is being touted as a new concept because of particular new apps and technology in the recent decade really sparking conversation on the matter, but the emergence of this cultural trend dates back to at least the mid-twentieth century with the rise of feminism and sexual liberation (Garcia, et al. 2013).
Some scientific research refutes the existence of the Hook-Up culture, but for such an issue that, as it will become apparent throughout this paper, is heavily subjective and encompassing of a range of social and biological factors, demographics is a dubious and insufficient explanation, by itself. Hence, for the purposes of this article, the focus will be on research that presumes the existence of this cultural trend among adolescents of North America. Despite being incomplete in anthropologically analyzing this youth culture, the stats are worth noting because they reveal significant trends about how this cultural practice in a particular age group has and will affect the future of our population’s ideology and society.
Before delving further, however, some terminology and meanings will be established for the context of this article. The American Psychological Association has published numerous papers on the emerging Hook-Up Culture, and in one such papers defines a hookup as an “uncommitted sexual encounter,” (Garcia, et al. 2013) including, but not limited to, kissing and different forms of sexual intercourse. Unlike other forms of sexual encounters, hooking up often transpires “without any promise of, or desire for, a more traditional romantic relationship” (Garcia, et al. 2013). With this definition in mind, the deviation from tradition inherent in this emerging culture is already remarked upon.
While this revolutionary cultural trend has strikingly become more apparent among Western society in the last decade or so, the change was already beginning to take place during the 1920s (Bailey, 1988). The invention of the automobile and the development of societal entertainment venues offered a significant amount of freedom in North America for individuals to date in a manner that was independent from parental control. However, censorship in film and widespread media over the next few decades tended to limit the progression of youth sexuality, hence imposing restrictions on the norms of courtship. It wasn’t until the 1960s when a significant sexual shift was able to transpire, particularly with feminism, hippie culture, youth rebellion from parental control, and the development of widespread contraceptive methods, which set the stage for modernizing the culture of dating. However, the progression of this was again slightly stifled by healthcare limiting the dispersal of some contraceptive methods (Bailey, 1988).
What both of these major social movements have in common is the advent of some form of new technology that ultimately allowed more freedom to the young adults of the time. It is technology that would again cause, and has played a main role in, the current state of Hook-Up culture. With the rapid developments that have taken place in communication and electronic technology over the past decade, Western ideology, practices, and lifestyles have changed in a drastic manner that has allowed the developing Hook-Up culture to truly thrive.
Mass media, like films and television programs, has readily picked up on this social emergence and, arguably, not only perpetuates it but even serves to strengthen its tenets. Popular movies like Hooking Up (2009) and No Strings Attached (2011) focus a positive light on sexual relations between young people without the expectations tied to traditional romantic relationships. Financially successful reality shows, such as Jersey Shore (2009-2012) serve to dub hooking up as entertaining, desirable, and above all, a normal expectation of confident, glorified individuals. Many books, blog, and magazine articles have been written on the issue, some debunking its relevance in society, others condemning it for being one of the major problems facing the development of the modern generation. The popular lifestyle news and culture sites, such as ThoughtCatalog and EliteDaily among them, are rife with articles of personal experiences, rants, and stream of consciousness pieces about the modern Hook-Up culture. Even contemporary pop songs either allude to, tell a story of, or glorify hooking up; song such as“The Hook Up” by Britney Spears (2011), or “Don’t” by Ed Sheeran (2014).
With all of these permeating forces consistently pumping out more and more information and updates on hooking up, it’s no wonder that it has become so entrenched and normalized in the culture of modern adolescents. All of these media serve to remind adolescents that not only is hooking up an option, but it is a tantalizingly acceptable trend in the modern Western society.
As mentioned, the existence of this non-traditional, relatively liberal, style of sexuality is not as new as it seems, and many studies have been conducted in the past regarding non-committal sexual encounters, particularly in America. Recent studies indicate that 60 to 80% of North American college students have participated in some form of a sexual hook-up (Bogle, 2008), clearly establishing the normalcy, defined as something the majority of a population exhibits, of hook-up encounters among adolescents or young adults. Even among younger adolescents and teenagers, aged 12-21, who are sexually active, 70% of them have testified to having had sexual encounters while not being in a traditional romantic relationship (Grello, Welsh, Harper, & Dickson, 2003). When such a striking majority of youth are displaying this behavior, it can be reasonably argued that this really has become the socially acceptable contemporary form of courtship, at least among this age group.
Unfortunately, research is limited from cultures in other parts of the world, making it difficult to use a comparative analysis of trends seen in North America to other countries. Still, it is notable that the establishment of this culture shift is not an isolated event in the history of Western society. Specifically, it has emerged almost in parallel to the technological revolution. What tends to happen with the advent and subsequent ubiquitous marketing of tools that increase our access to a wider range of options, is liberalization.
Anthropologist Leslie White theorized that culture develops in a Layer-Cake Model (Erickson & Murphy 2013). In her model, technology and economy lie at the bottom layer, with socio-political organization above that, and ultimately ideology at the very top. The way cultural change occurs, according to this model, is by starting at the bottom and working its way to the top; ideology in this case is synonymous with culture. The invention of the smartphone and associated apps has changed the way individuals are able to interact with one another, particularly changing the way we economize our time and efforts. It is no longer necessary to go to troublesome lengths to contact one another, to receive updates about each other’s lives, and to interact in some way. The ideology that ultimately gets reinforced by this is the expectation of instant gratification with minimal efforts. At such a critical growth phase, the age of adolescence among university or college students for instance, individuals are exposed to this mentality and they become socialized into it by a society that has normalized this ideological shift. With the increased sense of freedom due to increased accessibility to technology and the increased sense of instant payoff to one’s actions in a virtual or online social networking world, people are expecting the same of their real lives, including their sexual experiences (Anderson & Raine 2012).
From this perspective, it becomes a lot more sensible to satisfy one’s sexual desires by means of a casual encounter which requires little to none of the emotional expenditures of traditional romance. Furthermore, the popularization of dating sites and apps has gradually evolved to favoring those that are most conducive to being used for hook-up purposes, such as the infamous Tinder and Grindr in which appearance of a potential partner is almost exclusively the only available information, rather than those that require more emotional and time investments, such as eHarmony or other websites on which prospective partners are weeded out by questionnaires and personality matching. What this has arguably led to is an increasingly superficial approach to evaluations of potential partners so that the only role such a partner can fill is sexual and often not emotional, because consideration of personality is usually lacking.
Evolutionary research and theory actually indicates that “uncommitted sex has most often been interpreted in evolutionary terms as a fitness-enhancing short-term mating strategy” (Garcia, et al. 2013). This means there is essentially a biologically relevant sensibility in the establishment of Hook-Up culture. For males, it is most beneficial, for the propagation of the human population, to engage in sexual intercourse with as many females as possible in order to ensure viable offspring. Females, however, tend to prefer long-term sexual relations in order to extract more resources from males of higher fitness, such as financial support of offspring. Another issue is indicated by these studies of the innate drives for particular sexual behaviors; males and females differ in their attitudes toward casual sex, with men being far more permissive of it than females (Garcia, et al. 2013). However, despite the attitude difference, the majority of both genders still engage in and approve of casual sexual encounters. Ultimately, this issue is significantly complicated by societal norms and levels of cognizance that go beyond biological needs.
The desire of sex by both genders is innate and undeniable, but it should be noted that typically evolution is about reproduction and propagation of the species. In modern industrialized societies, however, “pleasurable sexual behaviors can be divorced from reproduction and used for other purposes, including social standing and simple enjoyment” (Garcia, et al. 2013), particularly among contemporary adolescents for whom it is assumed that reproduction is an immediate goal. This assumption is based on the increasing age at reproduction of the modern generation, and the increasing use of contraceptive methods. It is true, however, that a modern trend of having children at an increasingly older age should not be enough to overwrite eras of evolution hardwired in the human genome. It is this natural evolution that continues to govern the choosiness of both genders when it comes to even short-term sexual encounters; one still seeks fitness (Buss, 1998). This is another aspect that has been influenced by the technological revolution; as an individual grows accustomed to instant information, they seek that in all aspects of their lives, including the evaluation of a potential mate. The quickest way to infer fitness tends to be physical, hence adolescent culture shifts to a heightened value of aesthetics when it comes to choosing partners.
A more convincing, and encompassing, theory for explaining Hook-Up culture is the performance of sexual scripts by men and women, which dictates that our social behavior is in line with a series of “scripts” defined by societal conventions (Simon & Gagnon, 1986). By the media, men are portrayed as “active sexual agents” while the women are “submissive… sexual objects” (Garcia, et al. 2013). Women, however, must balance their image to be wholesome and virginal while simultaneously sexually experienced and empowered. While a man’s reputation is readily improved by sexual promiscuity, a woman’s is cast in doubt. It can be concluded that, in many ways, “media scripts are contradictory” (Garcia, et al. 2013) and often difficult to apply directly. However, it should be noted, the media tends to glorify shallow aspects of sexual encounters, such as aesthetics, immediate pleasure, and the ability to boast of one’s general attractiveness. Actual people, on the other hand, have emotional and psychological requirements that need to be fulfilled by sexual interactions, and it is these which the media ignores. It is no wonder, then, that there is more to Hook-Up culture than is immediately perceivable.
The majority of adolescents express that they have alternative, non-sexual motives for engaging in Hook-Up behaviors (Owen & Fincham, 2011). I mentioned at the beginning that I, too, am victim to this modern Hook-Up culture; the majority, if not all, of my personal sexual encounters would conventionally be categorized as hook-ups in the sense that they have been uncommitted and with men with whom I was not in a traditional romantic relationship. However, in most of these encounters, I had the intention or desire to foster a traditional romantic relationship. As it turns out, numerous studies report that the majority of men and women engaging in hook-ups “hoped their encounter would become a committed relationship” (Garcia, et al. 2013). The only real explanation to this inherent contradiction of Hook-Up culture is that there simply is no all-encompassing explanation. There are so many variant factors that feed into this establishment; sexual desire, emotional fulfillment, psychological and ideological tendencies developed by association with technology, revolutions in freedom, and the ever-present influence of mass media. It becomes almost impossible to pinpoint the true source of this cultural trend.
To make matters worse, adolescents is such a variable time in an individual’s life and is experienced different, in a psychological sense, by each individual. This also serves to make adolescence the ideal age group in which a trend like the Hook-Up culture can thrive. At such a confusing time of searching for one’s identity, engaging in new behaviors and situations, and developing one’s perspective on the world, Hook-Up culture is particularly enticing. It is enticing from the rebellious stand-point whereby it is certainly a trend that older generations of traditional values disapprove of and discourage. Engaging in hook-ups gives a youth the impression that they are exercising a new-found form of freedom and inherent in this freedom is the perceived strength in being free from emotional restraints or emotional baggage when apathetically engaging with multiple mates. It is truly a time of confusion, though, as the majority of adolescents admit that they would rather have an emotional satisfying partnership, yet they continue to engage in hook-ups because it has become the new ‘it’ thing to prove one’s attractiveness and sexual prowess.
Hook-Up culture is a manifestation of a lack of self-awareness and self-identity during adolescence. Modern Western society is so unique in its impositions of contradictory messages to youth, leaving adolescents stranded with no discernible direction in which to focus their efforts, hence they end up flitting between partners and being unable to commit because they don’t know what they are ultimately seeking.
With two partners I’ve had in the past, including the one that prompted the beginning of this paper, I had no clear direction or desire for the relationship, making it ultimately a series of hook-ups, and each hook-up left me more confused than the last. Commitment at the adolescent age has become taboo; in my experience, I can certainly testify to there being a significant sense of empowerment in gaining sexual experiences, as though it is directly linked to a gain of wisdom. But this sense is, in most instances, false, because the issue with hook-ups is that they tend to begin and end with the same amount of self-knowledge; “one instance [may have] involved sexual coercion and regret while other hookup experiences before and/or after were consenting and more enjoyable” (Garcia, et al. 2013), thus just perpetuating the confusion.
Hook-ups, by definition, do not involve getting to know one’s partner to a level that would enlighten one as to what it is that they seek for in a partner. Traditionally, the purpose of dating is two-fold; one is able to learn more about their partner and get a deeper sense of their fitness beyond physical appearance, while simultaneously one is able to learn more about oneself through one’s emotional divestment and reactions to another individual. With both of these removed, hook-ups do not allow for any self-development, and often lead to cycles of stasis where a person will continue to engage in them in hopes of eventually fulfilling the satisfaction they seek, despite the chances of that being unlikely.
Hook-Up culture is tied to various other aspects of the culture of adolescence, including acts of risk-taking, alcohol and drug use, and the discourse of rape. Over 50% of hook-up encounters in North America occur while individuals are intoxicated, and among young adults the overwhelming majority of hook-ups occur at university or college parties and other settings where alcohol and drugs are usually available (Garcia & Reiber, 2008). In many ways, it makes logical sense; alcohol is proven to incite sexual arousal while impairing one’s ability to make sound judgements, hence individuals engage in carnal acts, such as uncommitted sexual behaviors. I need look no further than my own experiences to be able to vouch for this, but hook-ups are additionally risky behaviors as they can lead to sexual diseases, unwanted pregnancy in females, and even emotional self-harm to depression. What it almost certainly leads to is waking up next to someone whose name you hardly recall, being equally unable to recall what happened or how you came to be there, and often being flooded with feelings of regret. This is another complicated, almost contradictory, aspect of hook-ups; their position in rape discourse is entirely undefined and being discussed more and more in modern interpretations of rape. It has been noted in numerous studies that “not all hookup encounters are necessarily wanted on consensual” and most college students note that the “majority of their unwanted sex occurred in the context of a hook-up” (Peterson & Muehlenhard, 2007). While it is more likely that these unwanted, and even non-consensual though less common, sexual encounters are happening in the added context of alcohol abuse, it definitely brings the Hook-Up phenomenon in the realm of rape matters.
Hook-Up culture is rife with gender differences and biases which tend to be socially normalized and stereotyped. Studies show that there exists a significant difference between men and women in their feelings after a hook-up; women display “more negative reactions than men” and “show higher rates of mental distress” than men after such an encounter (Garcia, et al. 2013). Perhaps women, especially younger females, are pressured to engage in hook-ups by a society that tells them that to deny sex is prudish, but simultaneously that they are valued for their purity. In these throes of confusion, it is no wonder that women are expressing the most dissatisfaction with this cultural trend.
An African proverb states, "It takes a village to raise a child." Such a statement affirms that common belief that people thrive in communal environments (villages, societies, and families) in which they feel spiritual, mental, emotional and social support. It becomes, therefore, natural to think that one of our most important tasks as human beings should be to care for and support others. While providing this support, it is important that we do so while keeping their, not our, best interests in mind. In other words, we must extend grace whenever and wherever possible while introducing as little of our own biases as possible.
One way to provide this support is to study, learn to understand, and document people's lives and behaviors via the science of anthropology. Observing behaviors that are framed by different contexts of interaction can do this. Some examples of these contexts include 1) the various worldviews to which people adhere, 2) the religious beliefs and practices of particular cultures, 3) the political organizations through which people govern themselves, or are governed, and 4) through the expressive cultures or artistic expressions put forth by various societies. This search for knowledge and understanding requires the shedding of our ethnocentric natures, which allows us to see and study diverse societies through a scientific lens with limited bias and prejudice. Ultimately, this search should be tempered with empathy, indulgence, and mutual understanding which will culminate in an interdependent and trusting relationship -- both worthy goals for any anthropologist!
Why Study Anthropology
The study of anthropology is very important to the world, as a whole because, from the first time man walked on this planet. he faced many challenges to his very survival. He developed habits that helped him to endure many hardships. He created shelters that protected him from the elements. He discovered what plants were good to eat and which ones were not. He developed ways to take advantage of the rich resources of the planet. He created traditions and rituals to celebrate his victories, relationships and good fortune. And all this knowledge and experience was passed on from person to person, guaranteeing the survival and lessening the burden of the next generation. Anthropology is the science of all these things.
Through the years, anthropology has allowed us to document our human diversity and helps us to comparatively examine the trials and errors of different societies, thereby providing data on "best practices. This data is then available for analysis and strategic implementation, which will increase chances that the human race will survive for many generations to come.
Social problems can be comparatively assessed and "tried-and-true" policies can be implemented. This process can serve to increase longevity and overall quality of life for many people.
By documenting societal nuances in communities throughout the world, anthropological records can provide assurance that the rich and diverse cultures of our world will never be lost to time or to the constant change inherent in our world.
It provides cross-cultural perspectives upon which future and highly successful societies can be built. And as stated in Mirror for Humanity, anthropology can identify needs for change that local people perceive, work with those people to design culturally appropriate and socially sensitive change, and protect local people from harmful policies and projects that threaten them (Kotak, 2005).
Anthropology also allows us to study and understand what other cultures and societies do, and more importantly, why they do it. This knowledge can lead to understanding. Understanding then leads to trust and highly functional relationships. And trust and functional relationships lead to healthy interdependency between societies. Another reason to study anthropology is to grow in knowledge and understanding of how to live life more fully and securely, thereby increasing our chances of living a fuller, safer and more content life by mitigating circumstances that might lead to annihilation, extinction or unhappiness.
Concepts and Topics
Worldview' refers to a common concept of reality shared by a particular group of people, usually referred to as a culture or an ethnic group. There is some commonality in our basic experience of the world, of other people, and of life-events we share in common. There is also that variation of individual experience, of interpretation of that experience and of behavior based on knowledge gained from that experience (Jenkins, 1999).
There exists among people today a wide variety of worldviews. There are religious worldviews, political worldviews, economic worldviews . . . the list goes on and on. And all of these worldviews can be examined in a variety of ways. One important consideration when relating worldviews to the development of a culture is the interwoven nature of worldviews, leadership, motive, power, and control.
An individual's worldview can only be deemed authentic and valid if it is a 'true' belief vs. an opinion or mechanism that facilitates the manipulation of people or circumstances with selfish or iniquitous intent.
Examples of two leading worldviews are Humanism (man is the center of the universe) and Christianity (God is the center of the universe). Humanism seeks to do that which is right for the individual. Humanism was successfully, albeit temporarily, promoted as that which was good for the masses. However, the relatively recent, failed experiment with Communism in the now defunct Soviet Union proved that only a few individuals were reaping the lion's share of the rewards in that corrupt political system. This was most accurately revealed by the two classes into which that society was eventually divided: the upper class made up of wealthy political and military leaders, and the lower class made up of the poor, working class. The Russian Federation, born out of the break-up of the Soviet Union, continues to struggle as it seeks to rebuild its economy, political leadership and culture around an immature form of democracy.
This Soviet debacle, formed by the hands of a corrupt leadership, show the shocking and devastating impact an unauthentic and immoral worldview can have on a society.
The Christian worldview, on the other had, seeks from its inception to lead from a position of 'love' for our fellow man versus 'greed' and individual/material success inherent in Humanism. The Christian worldview seeks to exalt God and Jesus Christ, evangelize all sinners, and equip Christians to serve and save all who need Christ as their Savior.
Although man's sinful desire for power, authority and control can creep into the Christian church, the foundational principles of this worldview have proven over the years to be the best choice for all people, as a whole. It encourages us to put other's needs ahead of our own, subjugating our own needs and desires through the grace offered freely by God and Christ. The philosophy of grace and service is intuitively correct. And when Christian attributes are obviously removed from daily tasks (i.e., in politics, business, etc.) personal desires for money, power and control prove to be the downfall of the leaders who position themselves in self-serving roles.
Religious Beliefs and Practices
Religion is culturally universal. Most societies find that a good part of their identity lies in their spiritual beliefs and customs. And when countries or societies loose their identity from foreign invasion, pop culture or severe economic disaster, the cultural void is often backfilled with religious fundamentalism (Harvey, 2003).
The importance of worldview cannot be overstated. For any movement of religion, it is the motivational factor that causes it to expand, contract, appear, and dissolve. Adherents to a particular movement test their worldview by acting upon it and observing the effects. Developing a Christian worldview is of extreme importance in order to advance Christ's kingdom as false systems collapse under their own corrupted weight.
This becomes increasingly clear when Western values supplant traditional principles and age-old ways of life.
Political organization is the formal or informal leadership, control and accountability structure under which all but the most primitive countries operate.
Nelson Mandela's political views were strongly influenced by the success he witnessed in a small village in South Africa. The concerns, opportunities, and opinions of every individual in this small village were openly shared and discussed with no single opinion being automatically rejected due to social status, wealth or education of the orator. Everyone enjoyed the same respect and the same personal power, thus enabling the group to share in respectful and peaceful conflict and discussions. The end result of this political organization was decisions based on consensus.
Democracy isn't perfect, but if the election of officials by the masses is fair, accurate and trusted, it has proven to be the fairest system implemented so far in any complex society. The theory of Communism is idealistic, but fundamentally flawed in its application and basic assumption that all people will act for the greater good of society. Autocracies are extremely efficient in the areas of decision-making and execution of these decisions. However, this type of political organization rarely takes into consideration the needs, wants and desires of the working class. This flaw, in turn, inures to the benefit of only a minute slice of society.
Leadership is an important part of any political organization. And different types of leaders are more effective at different junctures in the life of a society or nation. For example, a more autocratic leader with strong, basic principles who also possesses good oratory skills might be the best leader during any long or intense conflict. However, a more civil, people centered leader might be more effective when a country is negotiating for equity in imported and exported goods. Finding a leader with the right personality, leadership style and demeanor for present circumstances probably does more to stabilize and grow a society and culture than any other single factor, save a conservative and ethical worldview. One example of effective political organization is the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, which positioned itself quite well by electing a chief who was well versed in the workings of politics at the national level. This knowledge of politics allowed Chief Hollis Roberts (retired) to secure lucrative government contracts for services rendered to the U.S. Department of Defense, making the Choctaw Nation one of the ten richest tribes in the United States.
Chief Gregory Pyle was the next chief elected to govern the Choctaw people. He has been quite effective at maintaining the Choctaw's vast wealth, but is also highly effective at creating programs that assist the Choctaw people in areas of health, education and housing. Both men proved to be effective leaders; however, even though their leadership styles and worldviews are vastly different, they both increased the overall health of the Choctaw Nation in very significant ways.
The expressive culture in any given society relates to the ways they express their thoughts, feelings, conflicts and desires. These expressions typically manifest themselves as art, architecture, games and verse.
Art, be it paintings on a cave wall or intricate carvings on an elephant's tusk, serve to reflect the nature of a society's culture. The ancient Mayans, Egyptians and Chinese recorded religious ceremonies, work life, and recreational activities in their art. These works of art accomplished two hugely important tasks. First, they recorded ancient history in a most intriguing and exciting way, thus providing permanent windows into the glorious cultures of the ancient past for centuries to come. We, through their art, are in many cases able to discern why and how their cultures thrived and ultimately were wiped out. Second, the artwork provided teaching tools for their children, through which they could learn about their own culture and history, formulate new ideas for their own generation, and provide a connection that linked many generations.
Architecture is another means upon which cultures are founded. And through the vehicle of Egyptian and Mayan architecture we learned creative building designs and practices that enable us to build our modem day skyscrapers. Our skylines and cityscapes are as recognizable to Americans as the pyramids built by our Egyptian and Mayan counterparts. This highlights the fact that our architecture is a reflection of our culture.
Games are another source of cultural expression. The Aborigines in Australia encourage their children to participate in target practice with bows, arrows and spears. This game helps the children to become proficient at hunting techniques, thereby enhancing the tribe's ability to sustain itself and its culture. And the Choctaw Nation continues to promote the game of Hi-Li at their festivals and celebrations. Although it is more of an exhibition than the highly competitive game it once was, the war-like culture of the Choctaws is kept alive by recounting stories of 'fights to the death' on the Hi-Li field.
How Has Culture Influenced My Personal Development
My personal development, beginning at birth, has been molded by three main influences: my Christian faith, my Choctaw heritage, and my role as an American.
Through my Christian worldview and extensive Bible study I acquired my morals, ethics and values. These biblical principles have influenced every choice I've made in the last twenty-plus years and have had a highly significant impact on my personality, my relationships, and my professional life.
Pride is the adjective that comes to mind when I think of my Choctaw heritage. I learned from my grandparents to respect the land, its animals, and all things natural. By being exposed to nature as a child and as a Choctaw, I garnered a greater that average respect for the earth and for the God who created it.
Although I'm not certain why God chose to place me in American, I very much appreciate the principles of freedom reflected in our Constitution and Bill of Rights. I'm often confounded by the choices some of our leaders make. Overall, however, I'm vehemently proud of our nation and that for which it stands.
On a very personal level, I am reminded of my youth and the trials through which I put my family. Only now am I able to truly appreciate the national freedom that allowed me challenge the legal and moral boundaries that once (I thought) confined me.
I now see that my cultural boundaries did not confine me. Rather, they freed me to explore, grow and develop into the moral person whom I have become.
"History," according to Samuel Huntington in The Clash of Civilizations, "will continue as a clash of cultures." It seems the emerging, dominant culture(s) of our day will be those that promulgate moral and military superiority in tandem. Moral superiority evolves out of the world society moving to a consensus driven politic, one in which democracy will probably be consistently chosen, at least by the masses, over autocracies.
The impact of this self-imposed imperialism upon the world will be immense, due in part to the fact that when American political values are embraced worldwide, so, too, will its values be embraced. And when American values are embraced, it is possible that many cultures will be transformed into cultural subsets of America, perhaps loosing their own unique cultural richness and social identities. However, this may be the nature of our world one in which all nations and cultures are subjected to a constant state of change. And if this is the true nature of the world, it is inherently clear that we must seek to preserve the diverse histories and cultures that now (or recently) exist(ed) in order to preserve the roots upon which our world's cultures were born. Only by safeguarding our rich history through preserved works of art, architecture, videos of religious ceremonies, and traditional games, will we be preserving the cultural map we have drawn, based solely on our applied values. This safeguarding, in turn, will provide a mirror (created by anthropologists?) into which we can look, thereby creating a means by which we can review our historical actions and hopefully better plan our futures ones. "You do not support the root, but the root supports you." (Holy Bible, Romans 11:18)