What’s so important about cultural heritage? How does it make a difference?

Culture.jpeg

While not everyone feels in touch with their cultural roots, for a significant amount of people, it’s what they live and breathe. They recognise the capacity of symbolic acts, gestures and gatherings to breathe a great sense of meaning into their lives. From minor things including the clothes that we wear, the food that we eat, to the communal activities that we participate in, such as church, seasonal events and educational institutions, culture forms the very fabric of our lives. Undercutting our cultures is social connectivity, and so, naturally, many individuals derive a great deal of meaning from it. What’s more, is that, understanding our cultural heritage can provide us with a strong sense of personal identity, and empower us with great deal of communal support.

Since culture touches and effects almost every human being alive, people that identify themselves strongly with a particular heritage, a particular group of people, have more of a tendency to support others, and be supported by others, in that very same community.

Take the British Writer, Virginia Woolf. Having dedicated her literary talents and much of her life to women’s writing, is it so surprising that, years after her death, she has solicited such prevalent worldwide exaltation? Gathered mass praise from the feminist communities following centuries of oppression? Not at all. As a dedicated philanthropist, an American media executive with the intent of raising people up in society, to communally promote the welfare of others, is it so surprising that it has led to her million-dollar success?

The value of strengthening, of immersing oneself in culture, should not be understated.

Indeed, supporting cultural heritage not only takes the form of becoming engaged in oral tradition and literature, but in passing on the meaning of photographs, objects, art and historical artefacts. Often, we can grasp and view that which creates a culture, though in many instances culture is intangible, immaterial.

Heritage Cycle
Image courtesy of the Heritage Journal

The Heritage Journal’s Heritage Cycle is pretty good at explaining the process of locating and drawing more culture into our lives. Once we fully perceive a culture, it’s only then that we can wholly find value in it. After gaining understanding on a historical location, artefact or tradition, it is from here that we can begin to value it.

It is from this place of understanding that we will become hungry to know and to discover more. With increased knowledge, our pleasure is heightened, and, we will want to continue discovering more, as the cycle continues.

But culture is living, breathing and constantly evolving. It is formed of a mass of minor, daily activities that create a full and wholesome lifestyle. So how can we promote and elevate culture without reducing it to a few trivial aspects? It has so much more depth than it’s aesthetic and literal manifestations including the spoken word, literature, dance performances, craft and music.

There’s three route’s that we need to take.

Education.

We should be encouraging sustainability in preserving cultural heritage. This is how intangible and tangible cultural heritage can be protected. Via incorporating an education approach in this global society, gratitude towards our cultural heritage can be formally cultivated.

Media.

Digital storage isn’t merely the trending method of cultural preservation, it also speaks to the future. In the present day, technology is allowing the distribution of historical and cultural heritage across the globe, and it’s only going to grow in its capacity. Blogging, Vlogging and Podcasting are some of the most modernized versions of storytelling, of literature, of passing messages along to the next generation.

Arts.

Engage in artistic and creative forms of expression. Whether it’s formal outlets such as paintings, buildings, sculptures and formal dance performances, or the informal arts including food festivals, craft groups, cultural gatherings and celebrations; these gatherings are integral to the well-being, economic and cultural health of a community.

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