Culture and Anti-Culture


Culture is the enlightenment and refinement of taste acquired by intellectual and aesthetic training. Cultivation by means of education, discipline and training results in culture. Civilization is the barometer indicating the stage of advancement a people have reached. Although there is a fine line of difference between `culture' and `civilization,' the two generally go together.

Obviously, `anti-culture' would be the opposite: lack of education, lack of discipline and lack of training, a lack of aesthetic development.

The question may well be asked: Do our schools educate the students? Without a doubt, the schools expose the young to millions of megabytes of information. But, is that `education,' properly speaking?

An important part of schooling is education. The word `education' comes from the Latin `educare' which means "to cultivate and develop mentally or morally; to train, discipline, or form."

The true purpose of a school must be an extension of the home. The teacher's role is more than just teaching a subject like mathematics, history, language, etc.

Education requires discipline. Where discipline is absent, there can be no development either mental or moral. For this reason, the undisciplined student is not the one to make choices as to what constitutes a proper content of development. When morality is thrown out of the education system, education ceases.

Education takes in the whole person: It can only be successful when mental, moral and aesthetic values are transmitted. These things are not automatic; they are learned.

One cannot expect anyone to learn civilized (cultured) conduct if permitted to attend class looking like an escaped gorilla. Part of education and cultured civilization is aesthetic grooming. Dressing like an ape or brushing one's hair to make it look `wild' is not an element of culture. It is an anti-cultural statement. Students should not be encouraged to follow the tyrannical dictates of the anti-culture propagandists. This is where parents have the first obligation. Yes.

It is a parental obligation to guide children in the direction of mental, moral and aesthetic development.

The duty and obligation of the school is to continue this mental, moral and aesthetic development. This is why both, home and school, must work together. Of paramount importance, too, is the Church.

Everything in life depends on moral values. Morality is always a question of `right or wrong.'

Everyone has some innate sense of beauty. An integral part of culture and civilization has to do with beauty. Even though there may be a wide divergence as to what constitutes `beauty,' nevertheless, there are such basic experiences of beauty that may serve as a common ground. For example, although not everyone has a developed taste for the subtleties of opera, everyone can tell the difference between an aria and an angry fishmonger yelling jumbled profanities at the top of her lungs.

The same is true with any social activity outside the privacy of one's home. It is a disgusting sight to see a male of the human species half-naked with his bulging belly hanging out like an over-stuffed walrus mowing the front lawn. There's something about this that devaluates property and suggests a neighborhood of cretins. What is acceptable on a beach, is not necessarily acceptable on our public streets. There is no need to flaunt ugliness. Nakedness, states the late Bishop Fulton Sheen, is a sign of the demonic. If this is true (and I have no problem believing it) then our society has been progressively demonized.

Granted, there is probably no other term in human language which is used more and abused more than `beauty.' There are, obviously, many conflicting definitions to the point of amazement. For one thing, this shows you the complexity of its nature and the multi-faceted character of its appeal.

Beauty shows itself in so many ways and forms that it is nearly impossible to isolate the general element common to them all.

But we can make some progress in determining what is `beautiful' and what is not, by keeping in mind that beauty is closely related to the ideas of unity, truth and goodness. These are the transcendental attributes of being. Some philosophers even consider `beauty' to be a transcendental or quasi-transcendental property. However, like all fundamental and primary ideas, it is more easily recognized in a concrete experience than abstractly defined in words.

For one thing, we know that beauty pleases. This is a universal experience and judgment of all mankind. That which annoys and displeases us is not considered `beautiful.' Whatever is beautiful, be it a poem, a painting, a melody, a piece of sculpture, or an architectural structure _ it is always thought to be such because it pleases, gratifies and gives enjoyment.

Ugliness is just the opposite. Whatever is ugly, even if we cannot define it, we know immediately that it displeases, disgusts and is annoying. We can't help it. God made us that way. And we ought to thank Him for this built-in protection against what is ugly. This, too, requires of us to react against all that is ugly. We can begin by boycotting all those avenues through which ugliness invades our society and destroys the God-given sense of beauty. Beauty is essentially bound-up with culture. Moral values play a basic role in the development of culture. It would seem that morality and culture are the two sides of the same coin.

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