“What’s it feel like to have a sense of cultural heritage?”
My roommate seemed like the right person to ask. He’s Jewish and much more in touch with his cultural traditions than I am with mine.
It is an out-of-nowhere question, but it seemed appropriate enough since I’m more or less an out-of-nowhere guy, just another Western European mutt. My sense of cultural heritage is entirely contained in the lefsa I ignore on the table every Thanksgiving to honor my Norwegian ancestry.
Well, there’s always the good ol’ generic All-American traditions that all us cultural nowhere men can celebrate, like Thanksgiving.
Of course, Thanksgiving really does celebrate the white man’s first lie to the natives, whose entire way of life settlers thereafter annihilated.
It’s true. White folk killed a number of civilizations, from the Aztecs to the Sioux. And there were hundreds of years between that and Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which weren’t nearly as devastating. Japan’s still around, and it still has its history and its land. Maybe those hundreds of years put us out of practice.
Thanksgiving isn’t the only bloody day we white folk like to celebrate. There’s Columbus Day, which has been unofficially banned in some parts of the country. Probably rightly so. Nobody who was here before us enjoys celebrating our arrival.
So instead of history and heritage, I’ve got horror stories. Being a Euro-mutt kind of sucks that way. That’s probably why I lost any particular attachment to my cultural traditions. They’ve been pretty cataclysmic, historically.
Now there’s the American pseudo-culture, almost entirely composed of advertisements. It’s doing the same thing Christianity did to other cultures. In the Middle Ages in Europe, heathens were encouraged to start celebrating Christian holidays instead.
Today, Christianity is getting its own. The Christmas spirit is still around, in a way. But Christmas and capitalism were a match made in hell, so to speak. Eventually Santa’s just gonna be some guy in a rocket-sled who delivers presents to all the rich kids.
I guess we sort of ruined our own culture in the end, after stepping on numerous other cultures. So here I am, wondering what it’s like to have a cultural identity.
Generic White Guy disease isn’t easy, but it’s not that bad. As long as we don’t kill a bunch of people or repress anybody, we’ve outdone our ancestors. We really don’t have tough standards to live up to that way.
So there isn’t a lot of cultural tradition in the stars for me. There are a lot of Americans in that same boat regardless of ethnicity. A lot of us have no attachment to our ancestry. But anybody can have a culture for himself or herself. I’m making mine out of concerts and I.V. parties. Sure, it’ll change when my body can’t take that kind of nonsense anymore. But it’ll be a part of my history.
Eliav, the roommate, told me that he feels a sense of belonging to a sort of world community in the Jewish people. He also told me that every Temple in the world reads the same section of the Torah as any other on a given date in the Jewish calendar. That’s tradition.
And that’s what we culture-of-one kinds really miss out on. But sometimes I like the fact that I’m not on the same page as any other person in the world. I’ll just stick to forgetting about that lefsa every Thanksgiving and eating a huge meal.
Cory Anthony is the Daily Nexus assistant Opinion editor. He’ll let you know when he finds his cultural identity.