Culture Blindness

In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when Indiana and his companions are searching for one of the clues that will lead them to the holy grail they go to a library and look for symbols to help them on their journey. They find two of the symbols-Roman numerals- but are stumped when searching for the numeral ten (X). It is only when Indiana looks from a higher perspective that they see that they have been standing on a giant X the entire time.

I think it is that way in society as well. Mankind is constantly looking to grow and become better, but how can we be sure that our choices and the directions we decide to go in are correct? I heard the phrase “cultural growth” recently, and although I don’t remember the source it got me thinking. What defines growth? How can one be sure that a culture is headed in the right direction and the supposed growth is not the beginnings of a cancerous tumor?

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that culture or society should remain stagnant and unchanging. Without considering other ways of doing things and integrating new ideas a nation cannot survive, especially in the modern world with its free flow of information. It is simply interesting to note how cultural critics and progressive thinkers are so positive that the changes that they seek are correct.

History can shed some light on the impact of man’s choices upon his environment. Lessons of the past inform us of mistakes in theories and actions. Without historical examples to point to, how would we even know where we stand in regards to liberty, equality, enlightened thinking, and moral standards?

However even history fails in the end. Every situation is unique; every people instilled with a different set of values and expectations. Technology and what we know about the universe is changing every day. People are deluged with a flood of conflicting information without compass or guide to determine what is true or noble. In a certain sense we are more blind now than all our ancestors were. Despite the amazing advancement the human race has undergone in the past 200 years we still can’t look beyond the present with any certainty. No one can know for certain the long term effects of daily events, and unlike Indiana Jones we cannot simply get a “better view.”

I say this not to be pessimistic, but simply as an observation. Before we commit to a course of action we should think about the consequences to ourselves, loved ones, and our fellow human beings. As only the long, backward gaze of history, and ultimately the wisdom of God can show us the right or wrong of our decisions I think we owe it to both of them to be as responsible and as careful as we can.

 

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