“We are not made of skin and bone, we are made of stories.” ~ Sue Monk Kidd
Culture is the lens through which we see the world. It shapes and shades absolutely everything about our lives, and ourselves. I like that well-known quip about two fish who went out for a swim one morning. Along the way, they ran into a third fish, who greeted them warmly and declared, “The water’s great today, isn’t it!” before swimming on past. But the two fish just looked at each other quizzically and asked, “What’s water?”
That’s how most of us experience culture. It’s the bubble around us that we don’t see, but through which we see everything. This is true whether we’re talking about our national culture, our family culture, or the culture of our church or organization. Culture is ubiquitous in this way at all levels of our experience for the simple reason that it is essential to our human journey. We don’t have instincts as animals do; so the only way we learn to survive in the world is by being taught. Sometimes we learn from our elders; sometimes we learn from our peers. But the end result of all the learning we assimilate ~ about what the world is, how it works, and our place in the grand scheme of things ~ is what we call culture. Culture tells us who we are, and defines for us the story we are living.