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Culture consists of traditions and morals of a certain group. It can be part of a small group as well as a nation. This university has a culture, like any other organization that prefer to prioritize certain set of behaviors. We are what our cultures teach us to be. Whether we want to or not, the culture in which we grow in, will shape us with sets of standards and morals. If a culture is thought of as a spectrum of colors, then it is expected for each member of the culture to fall into one area of the spectrum. In other words, not everyone will turn out to be the same. There will be groups of similarities, dissimilarities, love and hatred, all of which could be anticipated to be a characteristic of such culture. Anticipated means that no matter how much of an outlier a certain member is, he will be seen as an accurate representative of that culture. Such anticipation is a clear indication of relatedness among humans, regardless of culture. There are deep ties among humans that make their acts to seem as something that could have been overseen. This is also knows as "I knew it all along bias", but I look at it in a context of human ties. Such anticipation I think is a clear indication of similarities among different cultures.
Many factors affect shaping of cultures. One of these factors can be diverse population. Living in a culture with diverse population can lead to more acceptance among the members. Such diversity could result in developing a culture that is less discriminative in its beliefs. Of course, such result can not be achieved without an effort. People are not like a mechanism that when set at a right angle, keep going in certain direction. For example, United States has a diverse population, but discrimination still exists. A great mix of salad can only be made if each member of a diverse group realizes that the differences between them could be a great initiative to unite and love rather than a great trigger to segregate and hate.
I was born and raised in Azerbaijan and currently live in Texas, United States. Geographically, Azerbaijan is located where East meets West, therefore it is not surprising that the culture in Azerbaijan has been influenced by Western and Eastern set of values. I've always believed that Azerbaijan has a very unique culture compared to other countries that share the same demographics and religion with it. To the outside world the Azerbaijani culture may seem very modern and westernized but if one spends considerable amount of time living in Azerbaijan they will realize that the culture in this country is rather conservative. The culture in Azerbaijan has been considerably shaped due to globalization, especially during the last two decades.
My country affiliates itself with the religion of Islam. More than 80 percent of the nation, when asked, will say that they are Muslim. Religion of course is one of the factors in shaping of cultures. Sometimes, an entire culture can be shaped by religious beliefs. Is my culture shaped by the religion that it portrays as its own? I would like to say in some ways, but for the most part, this culture is not shaped by its religion. One of the greatest requirement of this religion is moving forward through education. Today, people of my culture do not seek education. There is scarcity of open mindedness and abundance of backwardness. The moral value system of Islam is based on the absolute equality of man, irrespective of race, wealth or lineage. The only distinction in Islam is based on piety. This value is an earring on all the citizens of my country. Why then, there is only very little compliance? Many nations at some point spiral downwards into a halt. Unfortunately, this has happened to my country as well as many other countries in the region. The people in this region have been starved of education for many years. When Soviets came in 1920's, they made sure to exterminate any intelligent person in occupied territories in order to easily control masses.
The majority of Azerbaijani population consists of one racial group leaving very little space for diversity. People that are different race who reside in Azerbaijan are from foreign countries and speak a foreign language. Therefore Azerbaijanis are not used to being around people that are different than them. Discriminating different races or cultures is considered something acceptable due to lack of exposure to other cultures.
Every culture has negative and positive aspects to it. One of the positive aspects of my culture is that families are very close to each other and are always there for each other. I like and admire this about my culture. However, there is a downside, there is a very little sense of privacy. Very often, others want to know everything about one's personal life and they feel that they are entitled to do so. In other words there is a lack of respect for privacy and I find this to be embarrassing about my culture. Living in the United States has exposed me to a lot of new things including different social norms. One thing that I really admire about the culture here is how people are professional and organized. I believe being able to deal with all kinds of circumstances in a professional manner shows strong tolerance. I also like how people are organized; it helps society to function better and more efficiently.
I believe that Azerbaijan's reaction to westernization has been a negative one due to the fact that previously western cultures have failed to penetrate it. The reason for the Azerbaijan's rejection of globalization is social circumstances. Socially, Azerbaijani culture is somewhat opposite of what the fundamentals of globalization are. In Azerbaijan, people are interdependent, highly family oriented and think analytically. In addition, Azerbaijani people do not base their activities on a time-line and are far more lenient in terms of tardiness or leaving a business setting to converse with a friend. Azerbaijani people embody the idea of putting someone else needs before their own as well as choosing to do business amidst their own social circles. This tradition of favoritism where locals prefer to not do business with a stranger is one of the core reasons why globalization does not occur there. In order to give a better understanding of how people there view doing business within their own social circle I'd like to tell a story of a man whose friends frequent his uncles taxi company and would rather walk if there are no taxis available opposed to calling upon the services of another company.
A lot of people in Azerbaijan are racist towards black people, simply because they have never really interacted with them. Several years ago Azerbaijani soccer teams started recruiting African soccer players. This resulted in a number of African soccer players living on my native hometown Baku. Unfortunately, they were not very welcome by the local population. People would stare at them, laugh at them and make rude remarks about them. I got to know some of them and would hang out with them on regular basis. During these times people would often stare at us and make rude comments. I would always make sure to stand up for my friends and explain that it is wrong to act this way towards them.
There have been times however, in which I have either been careless to speak up or have not had the courage to do so. One time I a had a class project regarding geography and everyone was free to come up with a creative idea that involved some foreign country. Everyone stood in front of the class one by one and explained their project. One student opened up a world map with Middle East and North Korea crossed out in it. He then explained that he would drop a nuclear bomb on North Korea and Middle East and kill everyone that lives there. No one in class said anything including the teacher. I was shocked and wanted to say something but kept quiet. If this incident happened today I would definitely stand up and let him know that he was being ignorant and offer him some enlightenment. What I would say now is this; if he associated himself with American beliefs and wanted to be accepted by the community as such, then he should realize that his idea of destruction is in contradiction with this country's fundamental beliefs.
Based upon what I know about my culture, I have summed up how culture influences each generation differently and divided them into three categories. I hope that this basic framework could be applied to other cultures as well.
1-Those who reject westernization as the "highest stage of imperialism" and "cultural invasions" based on the idea that it is designed to dominate, intimidate and destroy a culture's heritage.
2-Those who welcome the scale of globalization as the age of modern science, advanced technology, global communications and knowledge-based information. This second group of thinker's debate that its people can no longer remain confined to the boundaries of their heritage
3-Lastly, the third group does not agree with the idea of globalization nor does the group disagree with it. It can be described as a group that is positive neutrality and has a variation of attitudes when it comes to globalization.
The reaction to westernization depends on which group of population is affected. The first group mentioned above consists of elderly group around the age of grandparents. This group is made up of individuals who still hold on to traditions allowing it to determine every aspect of their life. They hold onto their traditions very strongly and leave very little room for accommodation. The third group is made up of those who are middle aged, who at the moment feel indifferent about the idea of globalization. These people still allow specific parts of traditions to dictate their lives yet they still entertain the thought of allowing the change to take place.
Lastly, the second group is primarily made up of younger generation. The younger generation is a lot more respectable to the change of things, merely because that is the age in which he or she was born and raised in. Third group entertains the prospect of utilizing everything good in globalization. The middle aged (parents) are passing these ideas on to the second group (children of the third group). To the first group the traditions play a major role in how globalization is reacted upon, however, the way the world is changing, globalization will soon outweigh the power of traditions.
I would like to briefly share what I have done in order to outgrow some aspects of the culture which has shaped me. Growing up, I would easily pick up stereotypes. I often made racist jokes in my own circle of friends. As a teenager, I was especially insensitive toward the issue of racial discrimination. I did not know any better, honestly, did not see why I would care much about the issue in the first place. After all, I was just having a good time being goofy. I have to admit that it was not until my college years that I actually cared about this issue. Part of this is due to more awareness in the United States, considering that I moved here around the same time I started college. I am certain that I have unintentionally hurt others with such behavior. I have never been a person who would feed hatred against other races, but I do admit that I have been ignorant enough to think that my carelessness would not hurt other minorities such as myself in this country. As a compensation for all my wrongful past in this context and for the sake of all the goodness that I can create for future generations, I am doing and will do my best to extinguish any prejudice and discrimination residing in my heart. I will keep it from igniting in any condition or circumstance, because such false perceptions has no place in any society.
I'm glad to have the opportunity to share some of the characteristics of my culture. I do want to stress that everyone in a cultural group falls into a different color in the spectrum. Therefore, I encourage the reader not to overgeneralize my thoughts to my entire nation. These are some things that I thought I could share in a 6 page paper. The topic of ethnicity and culture is so dimensional that no single book can accurately describe all the details. I hope that I was able to give a glimpse of what it is like to live where I am from. This glimpse is the most I can achieve when tackling such a broad topic.