“It is not part of a true culture to tame tigers, any more than it is to make sheep ferocious.” – Henry David Thoreau
If I met you on the street (or at BlogWorld, see you there?) and asked you “What does it mean to be cultured?” how would you respond?
Rabah tweeted that I’m cultured because of my wide and varied musical tastes. I know he was just joking, but it got me thinking.
Is that culture? Being into artists like Death, In Flames, Fiona Apple, Regina Spektor, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Trick Daddy, Merle Haggard, Lady Gaga and others?
I don’t fully agree with that.
It’s a topic that comes up a lot with travelers. Like you’re automatically cultured if you’re a traveler. Or if you’ve been to a lot of countries you’re more cultured than someone who’s been to less. Well, that’s just not true. Because I believe if someone is cultured they’re not prejudice or racist. And let’s just say I’ve run into lots of close-mindedness over the past year amongst very well traveled individuals.
So, what then? Is there a good definition for a cultured individual?
According to Dictionary.com it means enlightened; refined. As most text-book definitions go, that’s pretty meaningless.
I know what cultured doesn’t mean to me.
If I hear someone say “I hate [insert style of music/art/books/etc]” I feel like that’s someone who’s not cultured. I understand not liking a particular artist, piece of art, or thing, but not liking a whole genre or group is impossible to me.
Personal example: I don’t like reading fiction, but I give it a shot regularly. Lo and behold, a few years ago (after a recommendation) I read The Alchemist and I’ve been hooked on Paulo Coelho books since. I give other fiction books a try if they come highly recommended as well even if, on the whole, I dislike fiction.
Another example: I used to say I hated country music. It’s true, I hated what I had heard up to that point. Then somehow, some way, I heard Merle Haggard. Now I can say I love country music, even if it is just Merle Haggard at this time. :)
So am I saying I’m cultured? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I curse a lot and I wear the same clothes almost every day. Do cultured people curse? Do cultured people wear incredibly plain, not particularly nice-looking, clothes? Or maybe cultured people only curse when the public is not watching? And maybe being cultured means you wear nice clothes in public, but in private it’s sweats and Ts? You know, put on a facade.
Mostly, I’m saying I’m ignorant of a lot of things and open to a lot of things.
What’s My Definition of Cultured?
Respect what you’re ignorant of.
If we all followed that rule we’d live in a much happier place.
Note: I’m on a train right now. (The magic of WordPress scheduling!) I’m not sure when I’ll get back online so comment moderation might be slow. But please do leave a comment if you have something to say and we’ll chat when I can. :) Also, no Sweet Saturday update this weekend. It was always meant to be occasional, but we went 18 straight weeks! :)