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Culture As a Weapon in Inter-Tribal Warfare

Culture, at its simplest level, is little more than the ways we do things in life, and the underlying beliefs and values which support these ways. Yet, it is a complex of behaviours, with origins, influences, and impacts which are manifold and inter-linked.
Each human baby is born with a unique genetic structure and potential. That may not be all. Hindu philosophy says that, at birth, the baby inherits a soul. The soul is believed to be an ongoing entity, being reincarnated (ie. reborn) again and again, acquiring increasing knowledge and, hopefully, some cosmic merit. Each new-born baby will, according to this philosophy, carry traces of its past lives, thus affecting its responses to events and experiences in the future.
Even without any input from an imputed soul-entity, the baby will certainly bring into the world of human existence an inheritance of a shared capacity and potential for responding to stimuli of all kinds during its life. This innate ability reflects the evolution of the human brain over a long period of time, and seems to be structured and located as neural circuits linking components of the modern brain. This generalised human ability should have no regard for the trivial surface differences which can separate human beings – such as skin colour, facial features, speech, and so on.
We are so much alike that babies everywhere, like sparrows and chickens or kittens and pups, make the same sounds, and respond alike, instinctively, to comparable stimuli all over the world. Inherited genetic differences, including some personality traits from grandparents, will of course serve to distinguish one child from another – sometimes significantly. Such differences, however, can be seen to be generalised over all human populations, whether Chinese, Maori, European, and so on. For example, an aggressive personality is the same in diverse cultures.
Each culture seeks uniform behaviour from its constituent members. That part of the acculturation process which is involved with the upbringing of its youth to ensure correct to acceptable behaviour, both inside and outside each family and tribe, will produce similar behaviour globally. For, good conduct is, by and large, uniform across cultures; it has to be, has it not, having regard to the shared evolutionary process? Such behaviours cannot surely be described as what constitutes culture as normally defined.
Any divergence from instinctively shared rules about good conduct may have derived initially from isolation, and a fear of ‘the other.’ When a number of extended families, each linked by their particular set of genes, evolved pragmatically, or even by necessity, over time into a tribe, they would have become linked by language, and agreement about how to do certain things.
These could range from actions and practices related to tribal harmony, external security, long-term viability (such as outlawing incest), and governance; as well as activities of a creative nature – painting, sculpture, song and dance, and all manner of crafts. Either following the establishment of ritualistic procedures, or associated with that, there may have arisen some philosophical considerations, or simply attempted explanations, about nature and the place of these people within it (including the conservation of necessary natural resources).
There may also have arisen to positions of influence self-selected shamans (or other priesthoods), or individuals seeking authority to rule through a claimed descent from an imputed god in an assumed over-world. A belief system would then have arisen which articulated these distinguishing attributes of the tribe into a coherent whole. Tribal, that is, cultural, differences may thus, over time, reflect both accidents of development, the need to ensure viability, and the display of power by priests or rulers.
A major issue is whether the cultural differences which have developed over time and across the globe are so different as to warrant or justify inter-tribal separation or even conflict.
In the absence of conflict over resources, differences in the ways people speak or dress, the way they relate to one another, or the ways they cook and eat their foods, do not seem to be important, although certain food taboos may not be shared. How people relate to others not of their kind is, however, strategically affected, not so much by how they pray, but to what (or whom) they pray. Praying to the same god has not led to a unity of minds. Presumably, all the religious people of mankind accept that there can be only a sole creator of all that is, named God.
Dogma divides. For what benefit? For the exercise of power, through a cult of difference and implied superiority. Cultural differences based on divergent religious dogma are then emphasised to justify separation and, if necessary, conflict.
Prof. Huntington’s thesis about probable future conflict being between civilisations may yet bear fruit.…