Modernity, the Idea of Culture Essay

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[. . .] Of course, in the past, community was somewhat dependent upon geography -- one of the hallmarks of civilization was the manner in which individuals bonded together to form mutually advantageous groups that would protect each other, distribute labor based upon expertise, and act as a safety net so that the group would survive and prosper. We know that community tends to mean a shared system of norms that use culture to pass on learning and acceptable standards from generation to generation. This allows the community to educate, tolerate others, and even predict future behavior in terms of needs and wants (Effland).

In the case of the 20th and 21st centuries, communications technology has resulted in such a change globally that instead of thinking of cultures and political entities as their own abject communities, we can now visualize them as "imagined communities." These communities refer to groups of individuals who may or may not be accessible physically to each other, who "connect" through the power of their imagination, emotions, or other intangibles. As we move through our day, in fact, we feel interactions with a number of communities that we can access directly -- neighborhoods, workplaces, educational institutions, religious groups, hobby groups, etc. In the modern global world, though, these are most certainly not the only communities with which we interact. Instead, when we interact directly with a community, we engage, but when we use our imagination to identify community, we must think outside the box. A community, then, is imagined "because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communities." In fact, "communities are to be distinguished, not by their falsity/genuiness, but by the style in which they are imagined" (Anderson, 6).

The United States has been a consummate example of the way in which individuals from various nations came together through immigration to forge a different type of community. Most, when they first arrived, sought refuge in the comfort of their own language and culture, forming ghetto areas in most of the major cities on the Eastern seaboard. However, after a time, while people have an inherent nature to belong to a group, they are also adaptable to new situations. The American experience was a blended example of this -- numerous communities coming together to create a separate and unique community through the process of acculturation.

However, as 9/11 taught us, expressed fully through the blending of community within Mendelsberg's Flag, we see community-based certainly on the ideas of nationalism and patriotism, of ethnic diversity and psychological divergent, and even of the culture of individualism and advertising, then we now move to an imagined community to mean more inclusion and formative structures - then we have a multi-cultural, multi-ethnical, pluralistic society in which individuals combine their skills and talents to form and celebrate their own uniqueness. In doing so, this uniqueness strengthens the imagined community by providing a basis for commonality, growth, and prosperity based not on hate, but on acceptance. Certainly, this resonates through the voices of those who gave their lives on 9/11:

Now they ask for nothing

In a world that waits for them

If we invent it-

Mysterious like houses

They once entered, keyholes

Squeezing in the light,

Every room abundant (Inez).

REFERENCES

"9-11: The Basics." 2012. Septterror.tripod.com. March 2014. .

Anderson, B. Imqagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. New York: Verso, 2006. Print.

CNN Network. "Stars and Stripes and Security Lines." September 2013. 9-11 The Ripple Effect. Web. February 2014. .

Effland, R. "The Cultural Evolution of Civilizations." 1998. Mesa Community College. February 2014. .

Inez, C. "September Morning." Poetry After 9/11: An Anthology of New York Poets. Ed. D. Johnson and V. Merians. Brooklyn, NY: Melville House, 2002. Web. February 2014. .

Stars and Stripes and Security Lines [END OF PREVIEW]

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