A product of my culture

September 23, 1998

Some students go to a museum of art or a symphony to “get cultured.”  But, in a much different way, I have already been cultured and continue to experience the affects of what my culture is in nearly everything I think, say, and do.

An individualized work ethic and desire for purpose in the things I do has been ingrained into me.  I gathered a purpose-oriented mind-set from the individualized learning and studying I did at the Christian school I attended and the farm where I was raised.  With this mind-set, I get many things accomplished, but sometimes I wonder if I am not merely doing “things” for the sake of doing them.  While I enjoy people and working with them very much, if I’m not doing something or going somewhere with a purpose I feel uncomfortable and out of my “cultural zone.”

Growing up on the same farm for nearly 19 years of my life and having strong family ties both to my nucleus and extended family, I can see that my decisions even here at college have been tempered with this standard of consistency.  This is my third year at Oral Roberts University. For these last several years, I have lived on the same wing.  I enjoy knowing things will be consistent as they have in past experiences. Gradual change is good. Rapid change can be uncomfortable.  It is almost as if I continue to reflect what my family began years ago by staying on the farm even when opportunities for relocating arose.

The very fact that I am a student in college is, in part, due to the culture in which I  was raised.  As a child and in high school I never considered not attending college. Call it culture or tradition, but in my circle of friends and family, college was the natural thing to do after high school.  Oh, I had the choice but never really considered not attending.

Competition has always held a strong grip on motivation in my culture.  In my childhood years competition and contests motivated my friends, my siblings, and myself to have the best photograph, song, or production.  Being able to look at a project in its final form brought feelings of accomplishment and pride.  Even today I see the motivation of a tangible award or recognition being a large motivation for me.  Although this is not good in all instances, I feel it plays a visible role in my actions.

What will be my culture tomorrow relies on my choices today.

In my culture decisions, large or small, are considered to be the individual’s choice.  Others may advise but the ultimate choice is up to the individual.

My faith in Jesus Christ came out of my training as a child, growing up in the church, and the prayers of my parents.  My culture includes church attendance and personal devotion to God.  Yet, this faith is beyond a mere tradition.  I am not Christian (a believer in Jesus Christ as the Son of God) because my family or society is.  I am a Christian because I have made the personal choice to accept Christ as my Savior and Lord. Much of my independent decision-making concerning my faith took place outside the reaches of the local church or family, but I am grateful for the good traditions or culture which helped me to come to the point of decision to commit my life to Christ.

By looking at my own culture and understanding why I do some of the things which I would, under casual examination, consider “natural”; I can better understand how, perhaps, others view me.  When I look at my decision making and actions in light of my culture it helps me to even see faults which should and can be rectified.  What will be my culture tomorrow relies on my choices today.  (Hmm… now there is an example of my cultural value of “self-help”. )