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iStock 000015578783SmallCulture – we're knee deep in it and we're creating it constantly, every one of us. Every single choice we ever make, every thought, every action, every word, influences our culture with a ripple effect that's way bigger and more powerful than we realise.

You are influencing the culture in your home, at your workplace, at the supermarket, when you drive your car, in every conversation you ever have, in every facebook post you like, share, comment on, in every purchase choice you make, every time you vote.

We're on this planet together, choosing and shaping the standards we live by. Yep, the whole planet, not just our country, state, city or any organization or group we belong to.

By the way, when I say "our country", I mean whatever country you're living in – mine happens to be Australia. Yep, there are not as many of us down here as there are in the States, but, just sayin', we're here too. There's this other cool little country around these parts called New Zealand too, and decent people all over the world who believe in doing the right thing and a fair go for all.

The speed and variety of information available to us these days is something I feel good about. Yes, those condoning and perpetuating greed and injustice have access to it too, but power in numbers and all that. My belief is that there are many more people in the world who are basically good than there are those beyond help or reason, those who exploit others and are motivated by greed and the pursuit of power, (which, by the way, comes about through fear).

Most of us who work for them, believe their propaganda and blindly follow do so from the best of intentions. Ok, some of us are bit thick in some ways. But the ignorant and the arseholes of this world need our love as much as anyone – probably more. If we know better, about anything, we have a responsibility to set the example, share the information, teach, lead, influence and love.

Why? Because they're all living on the same planet as we are. It's like we're on a boat together. If some of them are doing stuff that's creating an unfair system on the boat, damaging the boat, not sharing the food, making irresponsible decisions, we need to stand up and say something, do something!

I know, it's a really really big boat, and it's easy to think that our cabin, our floor, our area is ok and we'll be ok. But you and I know that would be kidding ourselves. And being someone who has children, kidding myself doesn't work – because I have future generations to think about.

The nature of global communication is so fluid and changeable now. We can still moan about monopolies and biases, vested interests, corporations having the power to control the message and so on. On the other hand, how long can that last the way things are going with social media? Some rubbish piece goes to air on TV, and before it does, a gazillion bloggers have had their say, with extra facts, pictures, details, references, opinions and examples.

We get to interact! We get to choose! Surely the speed and variety of information available can only work in our favour as a species – if we let it. We get to choose how much attention we give to celebrity nonsense compared with innovative solutions to sustainable and safe energy, for example. Whether it works in the favour of making a difference in a loving way or in perpetuating greed and injustice depends upon each one of us and the choices we make in each moment.

Social media and media in general are powerful ways of influencing culture. So are our relationships with our friends, family, co-workers, clients, people in our local community, other drivers on the road and acquaintances.

We perpetuate what we tolerate. If we're so afraid of rocking the boat, getting fired, not being accepted, not belonging, standing out etc that we don't speak up when something is clearly bullshit, we're an accessory to that bullshit.

It may seem like such an overwhelming task to make positive changes on a global level, but like with anything, we start locally, and we start with ourselves.

One of the best things we can do is to educate ourselves. Gone are the days when we would have a narrow range of choices on TV, radio or newspaper to get our information from, and further research took a fair bit of work. Now we have access to the whole world, and the opinions, experiences and observations of people the world over. When we see something about a topic and we're wondering about it, we can do a quick search and come up with as much information as we care to read.

It does take a bit of caution and common sense though, not to mention an open mind. It pays to read more than one book on a topic you're interested in. It pays to question the source of the information you're reading, and to dig a bit deeper if it's important or before you share it. I love how these days if I find a book I want to read I can have it on my tablet in minutes.

Focus guides us and determines what we will find. If we stand to gain from the sale of sugar, or maybe if we're really addicted to it, for example, we're going to notice and find a lot more information that supports the idea of sugar consumption being safe, fun and harmless. If we question the motivation behind whatever information we find, more accurate facts will emerge, and they'll be aligned with a higher value.

Let's think about how we influence the culture in our own home. One of my main motivations for overcoming my old depression and anxiety habits was being aware of how much influence my behaviour has on my children. When I see everyone in my home relaxed and joking around, feeling comfortable and being loving towards each other, I know I'm doing something right. It's great to witness the results of structure and discipline implemented in a positive way, rather than through fear and judgement. And this is where the culture of a home is influenced – by noticing the results of different ways of interacting, and challenging what isn't working, starting, of course, with ourselves.

If we create, promote and support a loving environment in our own home, one which is aligned with our values, then each member of our household is going to take that attitude outside the home with them. Our kids will take it to school, and it will affect how they interact with teachers and classmates, which influences how those people interact with others.

And so on.

When I was a young woman it was still ok to smoke at work, and I had to sit there at my desk with a chain smoking lady sitting opposite me. There were no free range or RSPCA approved poultry choices at the main supermarket. When I was a child with big thick glasses who could hardly see the blackboard, there was no anti-bullying policy throughout the school system. There were no children with special needs in our classrooms with integration aids. There were no solar panels all over roofs. Workplace accidents were much more common. Most people didn't dare complain or question these things, but somebody must have!

These positive cultural changes have all happened in my lifetime so far, and it excites me to imagine how much more could be possible in the remainder of my lifetime. Culture which tolerates violence, bullying, environmental vandalism, child abuse, misogyny, ignorance, propaganda, corruption, unfair work and business practices, inequality, poverty etc is our culture, is little pockets of culture all over the world, all now linked and better able to influence each other via modern communications. We all influence everything, by everything we do.

We need to be the change we want to see in the world.


#1 Maryann D. 2014-05-15 01:49
This is a very good article, Yvette -- great content and well written. Thanks for sharing! :-)


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