Who are we? Minding the culture gap.

Far from settling, the dust continues to swirl in the wake of the EU referendum vote. We continue to be in uncharted waters. There is a vacuum of political leadership in both main parties, and a lack of inspiring candidates who might be able to assume the mantle.

There’s a great analysis of some of the lessons to be drawn from the Brexit vote here. In summary, our culture has been shaped over years by the popular press, which has managed to use the best storytellers to put over their chosen narrative. Myth-busting is not enough to sway people whose views and opinions have already been formed by their culture. Facts are not enough either – when facts are at best contestable, people are always predisposed to select the ones that favour their position and discount or deny the others. So the most important thing  is the culture which nurtures and feeds people, within which they are formed. And shaping and changing a culture happens over the long term, not in a matter of hours or days.

Most of us take our culture, for granted. We don’t see it, in the same way that fish don’t see the water that they live in. But we cannot escape its influence; we are all formed by the cultures that we inhabit. We only tend to see them when they bump up against a different one. It’s the dissonance, the clash, that makes them visible.

But once something causes us to see them, we have an opportunity to stand back and assess them. Do we want to live like this? Is this the kind of people we want to be? What are our values and our principles? Where do we find them? There is a chance for us to reflect and, in the light of our reflections, to make a choice to live differently, more intentionally.

Being grown up is about accepting responsibility for our actions and decisions. And being Christian is about abandoning fantasy and facing reality, as Nick Baines reminds us here.

The culture of the liberal intelligentsia has bumped up hard against that of the poorer and less educated parts of Britain, illustrated here. We need to understand the values that are important in each culture – what is different, what is the same. We need to listen, and learn. And we need to commit to the long-term hard work of choosing what kind of people we want to be, and cultivating the values which we want to live by.

 

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