Rapa Nui (Exploitation)

Exploitation is a common everyday practice among civilizations.  Modern or ancient, we have always exploited our resources. Usually for economic or personal interest goals. Everybody talks about resource exploitation and its consequences and there are some organizations that try to do something about it, but the general population does not truly understand the consequences, or at least they don’t believe they will reach them.

Rapa Nui is an isolated island 2000 miles of the coast of Chile, some people also know it as Easter Island. Here, the first tribes after much success in their daily ceremonies and rituals decided to erect giant totems of rock (Moai) in order to celebrate the power of their ancestors and to represent them. In order to move this giant rocks the early Rapa Nui people had to cut down trees, shave their branches and use them as rolling platforms for transportation.  This practice continue for many years until the island was treeless. The early Rapa Nui civilization had exploited and exhausted a very precious resource and now had to face the consequences. Their civilization collapsed and the population was decreased to a very small group of inhabitants, who had to rebuild Rapa Nui and start over their society. Now Rapa Nui is a proficient and beautiful piece of paradise again, but the remaining Moai are still erect reminiscing their fallen past.

Contemporary exploitation is just as dangerous for our civilization and will take a higher death toll in this modern world unless we do something about it. People need to connect more with the outdoors and go expire more often, because it is not until you learn what is out there, that you get the feeling of a responsibility to care for it.

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Defense

The term Defense can be applied several ways, in a military aspect, in a legal aspect, in personality and even in network security. You can defend yourself or defend your country, defend your network or defend your case. Defense will come to play whenever something you value is at stake, if your reputation is on the line or if your kids are being attacked you first urge will be to defend it.

We defend our interest regularly during our everyday life. If it is not to our interest to buy from that greedy corporation we will select another brand, if we do not want to eat sushi we will suggest another place to our coworkers, even if we do not want to be stuck in traffic we will pick an alternate route.

Defense is another thing that is not culture based, some cultures might have one aspect of defense more prominently than the other. I. e. the USA have a big military branch so their militia defense is huge, but they might not have a big defense against capitalism. In Panama we hear a lot about workers defending their interest. about unions fighting for what they want and in this same way every country is going to have their own interests to defend against. 

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Recreation

Everyone loves recreational activities, these are the times when you can stop focusing on work and let your mind wander. Some people prefer to recreate outdoors and some rather watch a new netflix special. As in music or non-verbal communications recreations is something all cultures have in common and will practice on their own way.

Soldiers have recreational time to be out of base and head to strip clubs and bars, same with sailors and aircraft crews.  Astronauts have recreational hours to conduct their own research and play around in zero G’s. Recreational times is something that we use since we are little and slowly lessens while in adulthood and then expands again when retired.

I believe recreation is a part of our lives and is as important as having a job or an education. Recreational times are the ones we enjoy the most and where our most touching memories will be conceived. It is of crucial importance that we find time to recreate and do not let ourselves be overwhelmed by deadlines and expectations.

 

Education/Learning

ba1  Education is a major part of culture. Depending on where we come from and what our culture tells us we learn in different ways, and are educated in different ways. I find it particularly interesting to look at how there are so many ways in which children learn, and how certain ways of learning are preferred to others depending on the culture. For example, I have noticed that in Panama, people are very aware of religious beliefs when deciding how to educate their children, what extracurricular classes to sign them up for, and where to enroll them into school. Also, in my experience, and to my knowledge, parents in the US are not are concerned with religion as parents in Panama. Parents in the US are more concerned with giving their kids a good education, at a public school near their home.

Another aspect in learning that I think is important are the things that are emphasized in schools. For example I find it interesting how in certain cultures sexual education is not a normal school subject, neither is it appropriate to talk about it in the home. In other countries, art and history are valued and highly regarded as topics that should be taught to children, and in other places the most important thing to learn is math and physics. It is intriguing how from culture to culture, important subject matters to teach children vary so much.

I think it is incredibly important to respect other cultures, especially when it comes to education, because it is the basis of their beliefs. If a culture believes that teaching their children about art and history is what is supposed to be done, we should respect this and try to understand their point of view. Even if we don’t agree with certain cultural beliefs regarding education, such as sexual education, it is not our job to judge, we should just respect, and learn to accept that their beliefs are as valid as ours, even if we don’t agree with them.

Time

It is interesting to think about time throughout different cultures because of the value that different cultures give to it. The first thing that comes to mind relating to time in different cultures is how for example Panamanians, and most of the Latin cultures are very unpunctual, unlike for example the British and other European cultures. Not to say that Europeans value people’s time more than Latinos, however, there is a clear difference in how people approach meeting times. For example I know that if I am going to meet with a German I will tell him or her to be there at 8:00pm, and I know that they will be on time, and maybe even earlier. On the other hand if I want to meet at 8:00pm with a Latin, I would probably tell him or her to get there at 7:00/7:30pm so he or she is there at 8:00pm.

It is also fascinating how people care differently about time depending on who they are going to meet. What I mean by this is that if I am going to an interview and I want to make a good impression, I make an effort to be there on time, however if I am meeting a friend, it is usually not that big of a deal that I get to our meeting late because I know that it won’t be that much of a problem.

I think it is important to relate this to how it affects people in intercultural settings. What I mentioned before is just my way of thinking, but from experience I know that in Panama, for example, it is acceptable to arrive late anywhere including an interview or business meeting, however this might not come off well to a European or a North American. They might think this is insulting because we are wasting their time. I think this aspect of time is becoming increasingly important in Panama and the world. This is because of the globalized world we are living in today, we have to learn to respect and understand other cultures in which we are immersed.

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Territory

Territory is one of the things living creatures value the most. Humans have started wars for territorial conquest and dogs pee in front of each other to mark their perimeter. When thinking about territory, borders come to mind, and when thinking about borders we usually think about physical, imaginary, or real line that divides two physical places.

However, this got me thinking about how borders can be more than just physical place, and can transcend to the realm of ideas and culture. A borderland doesn’t have to be just a place where two places meet; in fact it does not have to be that at all. Borderlands can create a tense environment for people living in them because of the clash of cultures that occur in them.  It is interesting to think about how territory plays a role in borders, because if people weren’t so concerned with territory, physical borders would not exist, making cultural clashes more difficult to happen.

An example that comes to mind is the US – Mexico border, where Mexicans who cross over to the US live basically in exile because they are not part of the US way of life. Mexicans who cross over the border and live near it have a hard time adjusting their lives to assimilate to US culture, but still honoring and respecting their Mexican identity.

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Labeling across cultures

In the Western world there is a necessity for labeling anything and everything including our sexual identities and desires. It is interesting to look at how different cultures label sexual identities, and what they consider to be for example feminine or masculine. After the 19th century people begin to construct a definition of what it is to be masculine and what it is to be feminine. Consequences emerged for people who did not fit perfectly into the definitions of masculinity and femininity that were imposed by our society. People who didn’t fit in these categories were believed to have biological/ physical differences to people who were heterosexual, and later were believed to have psychological issues that could be cured somehow. Even though these thoughts have changed throughout time, and people are now learning to accept others who are not heterosexual, and that have different sexual desires, the labels that developed in the late 19th century still exist. The idea that people’s identities are based partly on their sexual desires is still in place, therefore labels of who is queer, gay, lesbian, travesti, transsexual, etc, becomes important in our western society.

As I began to think about labels and sexuality I remembered a conversation I had with a friend who was telling me about the issues Indian women go through in the present day concerning sexuality and feminism. My friend told me about a film called Fire (which I have not watched), in which two sisters in law fall in love with each other while their husbands mistreat them. Apparently the film was viewed terribly by a group of extreme right wing Hindi’s who said that lesbianism was alien to Hindu culture and that it should not be recognized, implying that it did not exist in their eyes.

I think that Western culture sees occurrences such as these an occasion to emphasize the oppressive nature of countries such as India, and accentuate the superiority of the United States and Western cultures because they are “egalitarian” and completely modernized, and accepting of every sexual preference. Being that there is no word in Hindi to explain lesbianism, it seems as if Western cultures were more modernized and accepting. However, I would argue that even though it is ignorant in certain ways not to admit or acknowledge that different sexual desires exist, it is also wrong for us to assume that because there is no word for it, it means that they are the ones being ignorant. This got me thinking which is worst? Us in the western world who have to put a label on everything even our desires or the Hindi culture that doesn’t even have a name for people who have different desires. I don’t think there is a clear answer, except to say that both are ways of subtly discriminating against people who have different sexual desires than the regular norm suggests.