Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Nations, Cultures, Souls

The culture of a nation is like the soul of a person. Even as a human soul consists of the mind, the will, and the emotions, so the soul or culture of a nation can be seen through these three elements as well.

First, every nation possesses a collective mind. Every time an election is held, the mind of that nation is revealed. Just as individuals sometimes wrestle between two minds, so do nations. The mind, or mindset of a nation, is shaped primarily by two institutions: education and media. Through our institutions of learning and our media (television, film, literature, art, music), we develop a worldview. A worldview is a view of the world, and a view for the world. A third institution, the Church, also offers a worldview. But sadly, the influence of the Church in culture is minimized by its own ineffectiveness in presenting its message.

Second, building on the example above, when we choose our leaders, we are exercising our collective will. We are choosing what course, we as a people, will follow. Even nations who are ruled by kings, or dictators—those nations who do not have elected leaders—still have a collective will. But their choices are made by those in power without "the consent of the governed." In fact, nations which are not free, often struggle to be free, just like the individual soul who struggles to overcome a weakness or an addiction that governs or rules his choices. Sometimes, individuals need help getting free. And so, sometimes, do nations. In that regard, the collective will of the people could be said to be toward freedom, and that even though they have not yet achieved freedom, collectively they desire freedom. We are in the midst of witnessing this very scenario in play in the nation of Iraq, with our own nation, and a handful of others, helping to liberate those people.

Third, nations also possess a a collective mood or tone. The mood or tone is the cultural counterpart to the emotions of the individual soul. We witnessed our own nation's collective mood or tone immediately following the terrorist attacks of 9-11. Everywhere we looked, flags were flying. Patriotism ran high. Today, three years after the fact, we observe again the collective mood or tone of our nation as we watch the media. The California recall race, and the worst of the worst in politics, has come into view. Many other examples could be given to help take the "pulse of the nation" as is often said.


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