What is happening in our country today? America seems to be deeply divided, along multiple fault lines. Emotions are running very high — over racial issues, economic differences, sexual mores, partisan politics, religious beliefs, and generational gaps. It feels chaotic – it feels dangerous. Is there some way to make sense of it all? We’re going to talk about all of it, here on the American Culture Podcast.
The purpose of today’s introductory episode is to officially launch the American Culture Podcast to the community of podcast listeners, explain the concept and goals of the project, and hopefully convince you to join us as we begin our exploration of American Culture.
When we ask the important questions about who we are as a country? and What it means to be an American? Where have we been? and Where are we going? we are asking questions about our culture. I strongly believe that these are vitally important questions to ask, that this is a vital discussion for all of us to participate in. What is our culture now? how is it changing? and how should it change? Who are we as a people? Who do we aspire to be as a nation? If we can honestly grapple with these questions, and maybe, hopefully, reach some sort of consensus, we stand a much better chance of putting all those other divisive issues into proper perspective, and context, and possibly achieving a better level of mutual understanding over them.
In this episode I explain what I mean when I talk about “culture.” The full definition can be a little dry and academic. But the core concepts, for me, are shared beliefs, assumptions, norms and values that are inherited, transmitted, and reinforced, and that form the basis for social actions. It is our shared system of beliefs that help us decide how to behave, as an individual, or as a group.
To bring it closer to home: It is what we teach our children. What do we teach our children about what it means to be an American, what it means to be a good citizen, a good person?
I hope you’ll join us!