Monday, January 26, 2009

Honor and Shame as a Modern Cultural Value?

In ancient cultures, as in some "uncultured" societies, honor and shame rule the cultural landscape. These cultures, believe that social control is held by the social mores, which are bound within tradition's values.

In today's modern West, culture has become dissolved from societie's traditions, which have inhibited some social behavior that would bring shame on the individual or family. These values were what held society "together", as they underwrote man's responsibility for and in his environment.

Cultural values are maintained or upheld by the culture's religion. Religion gives the frame of reference for what culture should be about. The conditioning of children in the home, as well as within the Church was internalized as an identification factor for the child. These were maintained in ancient culture by shame or honor. Duty was the watch-word for the child trained under tradition's influence.

But, in the modern world, the child's education exposes him to a larger frame, where these values are "challenged". The young adult, then has to assess whether he will continue to be committed to his tradition's values, or where these traditions have lost their moral vision and need revision individually or socially.

Tradition has all but died in the Western world because of many societal factors. These factors range from technological advances that discourage face to face interaction, to the break-down of the family. Yesterday's social and moral challenge was the issue of slavery in our country, while today's challenge is redefining marriage.

Every time culture is challenged to change or revise its values, there are many social tensions within the tradition-bearing messengers, whether tradition's scholars, or tradition's insitutions.

Social change is not viewed by the majority as "good" or beneficial, as it revises cherished understandings of "truth", which brings a crisis in identity. While social change is challenging to all, it is necessary and needed, so that mankind can be more understanding of neighbor and enlarge his scope to 'self".

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