EDITOR’S DESK: A melting pot’s ingredients
What is culture, anyway? |
My Webster's New College Dictionary defines the word as “the totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought typical of a population or community at a given time.”
OK (deep breath), I think I got that. So what happens when you become multicultural? Webster kind of takes a pass on that one, letting it go with “of, pertaining to, or including different cultures.”
West Middle School took a more ambitious stab at the word at a public event in its gym Wednesday night, April 21. The program, organized by school Spanish teacher Dorinda Barela, presented Mayor Lionel Rivera (Colorado Springs' first Hispanic mayor), Slavic dancers, a presentation on the Tuskegee airmen (World War II black combat pilots who broke America's color line), Scottish dancers, Mexican mariachis, Japanese dancers, a pre-teen '50s-music sister-singing trio and, finally, the Air Force Academy Honor Guard (pictured below, in the gym).
The evening concluded with a buffet sampling of ethnic food. Let's see, there was pizza, an egg roll, a burrito, bratwurst and some tasty meat concoction that I think was from Japan.
So what did I glean from all this? Well, one thing that struck me was the commonality. All the cultures that were represented evoked the sense that at some point in the dusty eons of their respective histories they all felt similar needs to ceremonialize certain unique aspects of their ways of life and to enjoy acting them out in a public manner.
But that's not getting to the heart of the matter, which is, I think, the umbrella culture under which all this occurred - that of our own nation. It strikes me as very cool that America at its best can absorb all these ethnicities and more, then blend them into a new culture that's all its own. This is a culture we're creating every day, if we're on our game. What fun! What a responsibility... to make a melting pot that never melts.