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Are These Not Our Choices?

we are sometimes
as human beings
as inferior beings

too smart
too sharp
too insolent

for our own good
for the good of others
for the good of community

the quick wit
the ready wit
the sharp tack

may be entertaining
may be a joy to behold
may be a blessing to friends
may be a blessing to us all

or is usually of good heart
or is relatively harmless
or is a minor inconvenience at worst

a minor discomfort
a minor difficulty
a minor annoyance

the clever
possessing intelligence
mental alertness

can be witty amusing
or disrespectful
impertinent abusive

but the shrewd
in business
other dealings

may bless aid us!
or fleece curse us!

the sharp minds
may perceive protect us
or cause sharp
stinging sensations
as they cut into our senses

the sharp minds
may cause mild
or even acute
shame humiliation

the choice may range
from creative witticism
to unpleasant criticism

a spoken or written
opinion expressed
may be right or wrong
may encourage
or point out find fault

considered judgment
assessment of qualities
is a moral obligation!

uplifting praise
caring intentions

or censure
condem nation

which are your choices?

the smart asses
are less dangerous
than the con artists
and the stalkers

the insolent
may be disrespectful
in speech or behaviour
may be aggressive

but this is not wise!
in life it is not possible
to ever be too wise!

we do not see
we do not perceive enough
know enough

to always fully realize
the consequences of our choices

we are never wise enough
for the deceptive shadows of this world

we can never be too wise
sadly none of us are perceptive
enough wise enough often enough

but classic dumb ass
seems to be
always a dime a dozen!

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Human Beings Are Deranged

What would our reaction be,
If an Alien race came here,
Would we bid them welcome,
Assure them there's nothing to fear.

Or would we be our usual selves,
By showing them we can fight,
To prove to them we are the best,
Convince them we're always right.

Or would we come together,
Like we've never done before,
Welcome them on peaceful terms,
Show them violence we abhor.

Could we show our Human side,
To let our visitors see,
We can live in world peace,
If only we could all agree.

If they were superior,
Beyond our wildest dreams,
Would we try to learn from them,
Or split in to regimes.

One group would say, we'll con them,
let's steal everything we can,
We'll then destroy the lot of them,
A reaction typical of man.

The others would say, let's work with them,
They can teach us all that's new,
We could defeat disease and hunger,
They could show us what to do.

Think of the opportunities,
The information we could gather,
Yet we know they would divide us,
We'd soon be in a lather.

What would they think of our ideals,
As millions of Humans starve,
While the others live in luxury,
As their side of beef they carve.

Would they think we're civilized,
As we watch our neighbours die,
For want of bread and water,
I'm sure they'd ask us why.

They'd ask why we value money,
More than life on Earth,
Letting gold and oil rule our lives,
Of intelligence there is a dearth.

Now we take away our food,
To make our transport greener,
Choosing fuel over eating isn't good,
The starving will just get leaner.

They would watch us spending trillions,
On arms to fight a war,
As we kill each other every day,
They'd surely ask, what for.

Our weapons of mass destruction,
The Aliens would surely know,
If we ever tried to use them,
Everything would go.

Cease traveling to other planets,
They'd tell us here and now,
You will not destroy our universe,
That we will never allow.

All they'd see is injustice,
Between the different races,
They'd wonder why we judge ourselves,
By the color of our faces.

They wouldn't understand our need,
For a multitude of Gods,
They would ask which one is genuine,
Do we know which ones are frauds.

They'd want to know why Human Beings,
Cannot live as one,
If we shared our world responsibly,
Then much more could be done.

The Aliens would ask why Humans,
Are hellbent on self destruction,
If we truly are supreme on Earth,
Why do we cause such disruption.

If they made an evaluation,
Their decision would surely be,
Your time is up, you've ruined your chance,
Even Humans must now see.

Every living thing on Earth,
Your species are slowly killing,
Despite the fact most have no say,
It's their blood you are spilling.

Despite all this you refuse to see,
The damage that you cause,
Do you know that soon the Earth will flood,
As the ice around you thaws.

Their views when leaving planet Earth,
Will certainly have changed,
Their thoughts on us would surely be,

''Human Beings Are Deranged''

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Natural Powers Of Human Beings

Every human being living on planet earth possess some basic powers
The basic powers include powers to think, select, reason, decide,
Invent, produce, feel, create, construct, write and make choices
All the above powers have their positive and negative manifestations

Those human beings who are spiritually undeveloped exhibit
Some negative powers such as hatred and disgust, jealousy and envy
Hypocrisy and duplicity, selfishness and egotism, as well as insincerity

The spiritually developed human beings display positive powers like
Compassion and kindness, love and affection, charity and philanthropy
Reverence for life, altruism and self-sacrifice, optimism and buoyancy

Some human beings demonstrate extraordinary powers of intuition
Metaphysicians classify the powers of intuition as part of the sixth sense
The power of intuition is the ability to know without thinking
Answers and solutions come naturally to those who have these powers

Few human beings exhibit the astonishing powers of premonition
The power of premonition is the power of forewarning
This is the power to know that something has happened without been told
It is the power to know an event is about to occur before it actually does
Mystics categorize the powers of premonition as part of the sixth sense
As it is popularly said – to be forewarned is to be forearmed
Premonition is one of special powers human beings can possess

A number of individuals display the amazing powers of telepathy
Telepathy is the science of mind-to-mind communication
It is also the power to know what your neighbors are thinking about
Some folks refer to telepathy as a branch of clairvoyance
Few people say telepathy is part of E.S.P – extrasensory perception
Whatever may be your own definition of telepathy
It is an incredible power any human being can possess

All the above mentioned powers are not magical powers
The powers are available to all human beings to access
Please enjoy your life, good luck and happy destiny

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Human Beings Are Nothing But Memories

3020. the year
when robots pay homage
to human beings
who created them
in their own likeness

at most humans could
just be idols
to the least they have
been reduced
to nothing but biblical
names and
notes of robotic

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Human Beings

We are human beings.
We are imperfect beings.

We need to aspire
to be
all that we can be.

Yet so often
partners, friends,

chance people
we may meet
upon a myriad
of random streets.

Will may strive
to bring us down
to a mundane
common baser level.

It is a terrible thing.
When the bell of virtue.
People will not let us ring.

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Lotuses, Artichokes, Bees and Human beings

The Bumblebee noticed
Her young son in a gloomy mood
On a Summer
And she questioned;
' Why you look so sad? '
'Mom! I promised that beautiful Artichoke
One day I marry her also I have an affair with a lotus!
'Oh! We have already arranged your cousin sister
And she's very fond of you
You'll be an Outcast being adamant
And your Papa would be angry,
Lotuses and Artichokes belong to selfish human beings
And definitely they burn our peaceful Beehive! '

* Humbly to a friend who calls me a Fool!

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If Billions Of Human Beings


“If billions of human beings
Have passed from the earth
Without our even knowing their names-
If so many species
Were here
And are now gone -
If Empires and Civilizations erased-
If so so much has been lost
So much greater than myself -
Why can’t I accept
That the manuscripts of a single individual
may disappear as if they never were-

I did what I did
When I did it-
And what remains of it
Is not for me to judge.”

So the cowardly voice of irresponsibility
Escapes the duty of correcting and editing and ordering
And trying to save the work I have given my life to.

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A Marriage And Life Of Human Beings!

Till the marriage time they don't know;
Marriage strengthens their alliance in life;
Before that they have not even seen once!
This is life made for each other till the end;
What a life between two hearts in the world!
Many marriage functions we attend in lifetime;
They look to be a normal and usual thing;
But till the marriage alliance is fixed for sure
Nothing seems to be sure and keep on trying!
This is the same case with many parents here
And nothing can be visualised before that time!
Likewise marriages are fixed and conducted
For years together and families grow to big size
In the life of human beings as far as I have seen!

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Human Beings

Human being beings are strange in being human,

Strange in love and art and vice,

Strange in being nice

Human beings are strangers in the night

Lights shining on a starry night

No sooner blinked out they are gone

A stranger in the human race

Keeping up keeping face,

Moving on

In crowds and queues and buses

Walking alone at ten

Human beings in being human

Make the strangest men

Not easy to be read,

Or clothed or fed

Or put to bed

Each thought entwined

Lives over signed overlapped

Smaller beings kept but not as 'pets'

Sometimes feel 'trapped'

For human beings are best when left at sea

Frantic firey disordered unchained set free

Their limpet souls make rocks their strange security

For love for life for space,

Human beings are strangest in 'The Human Race'

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Human Beings

It is only love I feel
That will give us peace of heart
In my hour of desperate need
I feel closer to the one
Oh but why...
Human being
If you bleed
they will say it was destined
They'll be punchin' tickets
By the minute if you fall out of line
Tell me is it death you feel
That will bring you peace of life.
Who wants
Tell me you're one of us
Tell me you're one
Tell me you're one of us
Tell me you're one
When you lose your self esteem
That's when love dies...
Please human being
If you bleed
They will say that it's destined
They'll be punchin' tickets
By the minute if you fall out of line
We're mere human beings we die
So...destined desperate
Well I feel
When you've reached number one
You look like you're puffing but
Really only blocking the sun...
Blocking the sun
Blocking the sun
We're mere human beings
We die
It's destined
They'll be punchin' tickets
By the minute you fall out of life
We're mere human beings we die
We're mere human beings we die
It's destined
We're mere human beings we die
it's destined
We're mere human beings we die

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The Face-mask of Human Beings!

Most human beings wear a mask
To hide their real face in life;
To some this is an easy task;
In modern world, such masks are rife!

Some hide the beast alive within;
Some hide their meek and soft nature;
Some hide their blunders, follies, sin;
Some hide their grief, sorrow, rapture!

Yet, why do people do such things?
The world is not so trust-worthy;
Our earthly life, more failures brings;
We aim to live a life, ‘mirthy’!

The face reflects one’s expressions;
The eyes are mirrors of the mind;
The mask covers one’s depressions;
No one discerns the truths behind!

The ones who wear a mask for face
Are successful most times on earth;
They’ve changed the contours of the race;
Their complexion seems false from birth!

‘Why should the world know what I feel?
Why should I show my emotions?
To most, the mask is worth the deal;
And works quite well like fine potions! ’

A few really abhor masks;
They live a life on earth, real;
They’re natural in all their tasks;
Their palate loves a genuine meal!

A few may try to read your mind –
But this is not an easy task;
Let face change with what life may bring;
But never wear in life, face-mask!

Our earthly lives has ‘ups and downs’;
In joyful times, we laugh or smile;
When anger fills, we show some frowns;
This is God-destined natural style!

Remove the mask upon your face,
And meet the world with pleasant gaze;
Let face be bright and not a haze;
Thus walk or run in your own pace!

Align with Mother Nature’s codes,
And dance in life to Her love-tunes;
The Maker guides you in life’s roads;
There’s music o’er desert sand-dunes!

Copyright by Dr John Celes 7-12-2008

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Unlock The Portal

The mind, a portal through which inner
being perceives, programmed by per-
sonal experience, teaching and
brainwashing techniques -

Modern human beings enjoy a market-
place of ideas, absorb principles and
ideals, pragmatists decree truth to be
useful application

Brains react to chemicals with sensation,
pain or elation - spiritual guru's recom-
mend using feelings as mental meters
of our level of creation

Instinctual pleasure is termed good while
pain is bad, disrespect causes pain while
creativity delights, if all needs could
be met without losing self-esteem

A new world would come into being without
victims and victimisers as these roles would
disappear - my mind portal is contaminated
by chemicals; my thoughts cannot lift off

From physical, wish I could wave a wand and
feel different - capable, energetic, affectionate
and loving - but my brain only registers a
feeling of apprehension

Imprisoned within a programmed view of reality
which leaves no room for me, trying to disappear
not working; you look at me with an
expression of exasperation

Please let me change, please, please give me a
different perspective, give me a warm loving heart
in place of the cold stone created by allergy,
please unlock the portal which leads to

Freedom And Love...

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George Orwell

On the whole human beings want to be good, but not too good and not quite all the time.

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George Orwell

On the whole, human beings want to be good, but not too good, and not quite all the time.

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The Evil World

The evil world is like hell with human life,
So for almost every man beats his wife.

No place is worser than a life in a cell,
Except for eternity with demons in hell.

The evil world is filled with worthless life,
Yet life is sometimes worth living.

At night I lay in my bed
Wondering when is everyone dead.

Yet the evil world is like hell:
Evil conquers most human beings.

Without light or good the human race
Will seize to exist.

You must fulfill the life of man.
The evil world is like hell with human life.

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The spirit of our planet and family

spirituality and nature

Human nature is the key to a good heart,
I think the mother is a symbol of compassion,
And has taught us the value of compassion,
Everyone has a seed of a good heart,

Nature and our planet,
Is nothing special,
Nothing sacred,
Nothing holy,
We have a love for our house, our family,
We have no other planet,
We have no other house or family,
Except the one we live in,
Or family we have,

Disturbances and problems exist, on our planet,
Solve these problems and disturbances,
For we can not live on other planets,
The moon looks beautiful from a distance,
But we can not settle there, it would be horrible,
It is only my thoughts,

Now take our blue planet,
It is much better, and a happier place,
So take care of our planet,
Take care of our own place,
Take care of our house,
Take care of our families,

It is only my pondering,
On human nature,
Our blue planet,
Our house we live in,
Or the family we have,

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Good Heart

(give a good heart, give a good heart,
Give a good heart, give a good heart)
When it seems that all hope is gone
And so called friends arent there to rely on
When the darkness makes it so hard to see
Just lift up your eyes, you will see me - yeah
And Ill give a good heart, to hold you so strong
Ill give you my shoulder to lean on - yeah
Gonna give a good heart, thats solid and true
And I will always stand by you
When it seems no ones there to turn to
Everyones a stranger passing through
And all thats left is a broken dream
Just hold out your hand, reach out for me - yeah
And Ill give a good heart, to hold you so strong
Ill give you my shoulder to lean on - yeah
Give a good heart, thats solid and true
And I will always stand by you
Now theres no need to dance alone
In these arms you found your home
Ooh, whoa oh oh - give a good heart
Take my good heart, take my good heart
Take my good heart
And Ill give a good heart, to hold you so strong
Ill give you my shoulder to lean on - yeah
Gonna give a good heart, thats solid and true
I will always stand by you
Give a good heart, hold you so strong
Give you my shoulder to lean on
Gonna give a good heart, hold youre head up
So lift youre head up - lift it up
Ill show you a love to believe in - yeah
I will always stand by you
Take my good heart...
Give a good heart, hold you so strong
Give you my shoulder to lean on
Gonna give a good heart, solid and true
I will always stand by you...

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A Map Of Culture



What is Culture?

The Importance of Culture

Culture Varies

Culture is Critical

The Sociobiology Debate

Values, Norms, and Social Control

Signs and Symbols


Terms and Definitions

Approaches to the Study of Culture

Are We Prisoners of Our Culture?

What is Culture?

I prefer the definition used by Ian Robertson: 'all the shared products of society: material and nonmaterial' (Our text defines it in somewhat more ponderous terms- 'The totality of learned, socially transmitted behavior. It includes ideas, values, and customs (as well as the sailboats, comic books, and birth control devices) of groups of people' (p.32) .

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The Importance of Culture

The concepts, culture and society are closely related. Culture is defined as all the products of society- material and nonmaterial; Society consists of interacting people living in the same territory who share a common culture. We really can't have one without the other (unless you want to call archaeological remains and historical records 'culture') . People in society create culture; culture shapes the way people interact and understand the world around them.

Culture determines what we know- the sum of all the angles in a triangle; what a screw driver is used for; how to use a computer to find out where Peloponnesians are...

Culture also determines what we don't know- how to catch a fish by hand; how to build a dugout canoe and navigate the South Seas without chart or compass.

Culture determines what we want to be- lawyer; dairy farmer; computer programmer; doctor; shaman; pearl diver

Culture Varies

It varies with the physical setting or geography: (A good example here is music. Think of all the differences in music that are related to geography. We're a mixed society in the United States, but think of the regional origins of much of our our music: Clogging in Tennessee; Cajun music (Zydeko) in Louisiana; City music vs. Country/Western Music, etc.)

It also varies with time: Have you ever tried to read Beowulf; Shakespeare; work a slide rule; drive a buggy; understand Victorian morality and ethics? I asked my young daughter if she wanted to go to a record store. 'What's a record? ', she asked. (Her generation has been exposed only to tapes and CDs) .

Think of culture as a stream flowing down through the centuries from one generation to another. Each generation contributes something to this stream, but in each generation something is left behind, some sediment drops to the bottom and is lost to society, (Bierstedt) . Examples of things lost to society the art of stained glass window making, violin making (The greatest violins ever produced by man were made in Cremona, Northern Italy in the mid 16th century) . (Science 84 5: 2 pp 3643) .

Culture is Critical to the Survival of Human Race

Because of the nature of the animal that we are. Unlike most animals that are specially adapted to the environment in which they live, we lack special physical characteristics such as long fangs, sharp teeth, claws, fur, feathers, or scales; or even physiological behavior patterns such as hibernation, to enable us to survive in a hostile environment. But, like the higher primates, (which we are one type of) , we share a number of important characteristics:

Characteristics of all primates:

Sociable: (Primates are gregarious and like to be in groups)
Smart: (large brain/body weight ratio) Humans' brains are most complex.
Sensitive hands: (All primates have an opposing thumb) .
Sound: (Primates are extremely vocal) .
Stand: (All primates can assume an erect posture which frees the hands):

Biological characteristics possessed by humans, alone:

Sex and Mating: (Year around mating- Unlike other primates, we lack a special breeding season. This, has important implications for gender roles) .
Schooling: (The young have a long period of dependence on adults. This also has implications for gender roles) .
Symbolic Speech: (Although there are numerous examples of chimpanzees being taught to use symbols to communicate, humans alone have developed a highly complex system of symbolic speech) .
Locomotion: (Humans alone, walk erect) .

Humans possess a highly developed, complex brain, which allows us to communicate symbolically, to learn quickly, and to innovate. We lack instincts (or if they do exist they are not readily apparent) . It is our culture that enables us to survive as a species. Culture provides answers to such basic problems as finding shelter, food, and clothing. Culture provides guidance for our every day lives; social organization which keeps us from tearing each other apart.

Every generation has to learn from scratch the culture of its society or it will perish. All the basic institutions of society that we discussed earlier; the economy, education, religion, recreation, politics represent needs that society must meet. Ways of meeting these needs are handed down from one generation to the next. They represent our culture. What we lack in physical attributes and strength, we make up for in our ability to communicate and learn culture from one generation to the next.

This, in my opinion, is precisely why Sociology is so important. It's humankind's almost total reliance upon socially transmitted patterns of behavior that enable it to survive. Society and culture are the subject matter of Sociology.

The Sociobiology Debate

There is a school of thought, Sociobiology, which sees much of human behavior as being instinctual. Sociologists generally hold that culture evolved (or developed) due to the influence of values (ideas) or due to changes in the material base of society (technology fire, the wheel, the computer) . They usually argue that biology (genetic programming) has a limited role. Sociobiologists, claim that human culture and social behavior derive from a process of natural selection and genetic transmission. Our genes predispose us to certain patterns of behavior unique from other animals. Sociobiologists support their argument by citing a number of 'cultural universals' found in all societies. They say that this is evidence of the influence of genetic factors. Examples have been drawn from the work of anthropologist, George Murdock (1945) who argued that all societies demonstrated some form of the following:

athletic sports


bodily adornment


cooking (meal preparation)

incest taboos

cooperative labor





num erals

dream analysis

personal names

family feasting

property rights

folk law

sexual restrictions

funeral ceremonies


food taboos

toilet training


tool making

gift giving

weather making

Sociobiologists argue that human behavior ultimately is derived from our biology rather than learning. According to Murdock, all societies have incest taboos. Why? One biological argument would be that in-breeding can produce genetic defects, or that it may reinforce undesirable traits (such as hemophilia or mental instability) . Incest taboos force a group to broaden its gene pool which reduces the probability of passing along 'dysfunctional' traits. One could apply this argument to the Catholic Church: By forbidding priests and nuns to marry, it forced the recruitment of individuals from outside the church to keep the gene pool fresh. (This would prevent the formation of 'religious royal families' and the decline of the faith when a feeble minded monarch emerged) .

But there are problems with this argument. Referring to incest: Why is incest defined differently from one society to another? The range of variation is tremendous! Some societies have allowed marriage between brothers and sisters. Others forbid it between relatives closer than first cousins. Still others have restrictions going out even further; requiring individuals to marry outside the tribe. If there is a genetic basis for the incest taboo, why is there so much variation? Another point is that just as 'dysfunctional traits' can be reinforced through inbreeding; so can 'desirable' characteristics. (Dog breeders and horse breeders do this very thing) .

If everything were programmed genetically, we would expect to see little variation across societies in the way people handled the affairs of their everyday lives. But there are tremendous differences in...

the sports that we play and the way we play them
the families that we form and the ways we form them
the various ways in which we court our spouses
the friends we make and the way we make them
the tools we make and how we use them
the languages we invent and the way we speak them
the food we eat and how we eat it
the religions we form and how we practice them
the laws and customs we make and how we observe them.

The key point is that this behavior is learned. Humans can change culture without changing genes. Biology sets the stage by giving us unique capabilities that distinguish us from other species; culture determines how we use those unique capabilities.

Values, Norms, and Social Control

Values are socially shared ideas about what is 'right' and 'wrong; ' 'good' and 'bad' in society. Values are general ideas- broad and abstract. They vary from one society to another and one way to study society is to examine the values held by its members. Values are important because it is from them that we derive the norms or rules that govern our everyday lives. Values help guide conduct in unfamiliar situations and may lead to the formation of specific norms. Generally speaking, we tend to hold on to our values and are unlikely to compromise them. American values have been intensively studied by numerous scholars:

American values (Robin Williams) :

achievement and success


activity and work






material comfort


efficiency/p racticality



racial/ethnic superiority

American values (Talcott Parsons) :

instrumental activism

maximization of opportunity for individuals and sub collectives


pragmatic acceptance of authority

economic production

objection to pretensions of generalized superiority of status

technology and science

Individuals as well as entire societies may experience value conflict. A great example of value conflict at the individual level is provided by the 1941 movie, 'Sergeant York, ' (starring Gary Cooper) . The movie tells the story of Alvin Cullum York, regarded as one of the outstanding heroes of World War I, who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for killing 20 enemy soldiers and capturing over 100 prisoners. At first, York was a conscientious objector who held deep religions convictions against killing. The value conflict in this case involved the Sixth Commandment's prohibition against killing and what he felt were his duties as a patriotic American- to answer his country's call. Cooper, who won an Oscar for his portrayal of Sgt. York, did a wonderful job showing how individuals 'freeze up' and are unable to do anything until they resolve these kinds of internal value conflicts.

One very powerful example of a value conflict at the societal level is the current debate over abortion. Values are not readily compromised and it is often impossible to find 'common ground' in these kinds of disputes. The debate over slavery and states' rights in the 1850s is an example of a value conflict that was eventually resolved through war- the bloodiest war in this nation's history. The deplorable state of affairs we are now observing in what was formerly Yugoslavia, is essentially another value conflict.

Norms are derived from a society's overall values. Values determine norms. Remember, norms are classified into several types.

Folkways (weak norms customs, etiquette; three meals a day, wearing shoes to class, tipping after a meal, taking same seat in class)
Mores (strong norms considered vital to our well-being, values, morals; cheating on spouse, child abuse and murder)
Laws (Norms established and punished by the state with punishments fixed in advance: written or encoded mores, folkways, and taboos; from traffic laws to laws against rape and murder) .
Taboos (Very strong norms whose violation is considered loathsome and disgusting)

Social Control is the means by which society ensures that its members follow approved norms. Norms are supported by sanctions- positive and negative; formal and informal; which are used to bring people into line.

Positive (informal) sanction: give child a candy bar for behaving
Negative (informal) sanction: give a child a stern look for talking in church
Positive (formal) sanction: combat soldier gets Congressional Medal of Honor for heroism
Negative (formal) sanction: person gets speeding ticket for doing 56 mph in a 55 mph zone

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Signs and Symbols

There is an important difference between signs and symbols that you should know. Symbols set man apart from animals. Animals use signs.

Signs are representational: There is a direct connection between the sign and the reality it refers to. The meaning is clear and unambiguous. Sort of like stimulus and response. There is no need to interpret meanings.

Smoke indicates that fire is present (or will soon be present)
The family dog scratches the door to the back yard- It wants to go outside. It gets its bowl- It wants food. (The bowl is directly related to food) . It lays down belly-up- It displays submission.

Symbols are interpretative:

A symbol is an object, gesture, sound, color, or design which stands for something other than itself. We humans give meaning to these things. Examples- wedding band; leather jacket; sports car; the length and color of a person's hair; (punk rockers; T.V. ministries where people are neatly dressed; flag burnings) . Symbols may have multiple meanings. Example- the cross on a church steeple; a burning cross; a red cross on the side of an ambulance. (A smile can take on many different meanings) . Symbols can change meaning over time. Example- 'V' sign was once obscene. It stood for victory in World War II. During the Vietnam War it meant peace. Symbols are capable of stirring up deep emotions. In the debate over abortion, individuals don't classify themselves as 'pro' or 'anti' abortion. Rather, they use the terms 'pro-choice', or 'pro-life'- 'choice' and 'life' are two important values in U.S. society. People often disagree over whether or not a symbol is appropriate for a given place or circumstance. Several years ago, there was much debate over whether or not McDonalds' 'golden arches, ' an internationally recognized symbol in its own right, should be displayed so prominently over the VCU Student Commons' entrances. Eventually, the arches were taken down.


Most people feel that language is unique to human beings. Other species use signs with genetically fixed meanings and can learn to respond to specified stimuli- (Pavlov's dogs salivating at the ring of a bell) - but only humans can be said to have language. Language consists primarily of verbal and written symbols with rules for putting them together. (Language also consists of the nonverbal expressions which accompany speech in face-to-face interaction. Raising an eyebrow or winking an eye often relays more meaning than a hundred words. We can therefore modify our definition to include 'verbal, visual, and written symbols and their associated rules for putting them together.'

Is language really unique to humans? There are a number of very interesting studies that suggest that certain animals have a highly developed capacity for language. Click on the links, below for some serious and scholarly references on animal communication.

§ Birds

§ Chimpanzees

§ Gorillas

This next site has some interesting material on

§ Dolphins and Whales

Language is truly the 'keystone to culture' for without it, we could not pass on the collective experience of society and the lessons it teaches for survival. It is the primary way that we pass on our culture from one generation to the next. It enables us to store meanings so we don't have to relearn everything with each generation.
Language allows us to create worlds we've never seen and develop new ideas to explain the world around us. A good example is atomic theory. Before the advent of the scanning electron microscope men had predicted the existence of atoms and molecules using the symbols of language. Language also allows us to develop new ideas to apply to the future.
George Orwell realized the importance of language in his epic work,1984. Why did the rulers of Oceania develop 'Newspeak'? They wanted to restrict the creative ability of humankind so they wouldn't have the concepts of freedom, free enterprise, individuality. 'The purpose of newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the worldview and mental habits proper to devotees of Ingsoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible.' (Orwell, p.246)

The SapirWhorf Hypothesis states that language not only reproduces our ideas, but it also shapes the way we think. It orders our reality. It may prevent people from being aware of things in the environment and focuses our attention on certain things. Examples:

Sexist language shapes our thinking about women. Coaches who ridiculed male players when they weren't playing well by calling them ladies? Language that treats women as objects; 'chick, fox, babe, hot cakes, skirts, etc. will tend to make us think of women as objects, not people.
Racist language, ethnic language; Micks, Spicks, Whops, Pollocks, Degos, Ollies, etc. tend to lower our image of people.
Color: The human eye can discern thousands of different shades of color, yet in our society we identify only 6 to 8 particular ones. A tribe in New Guinea breaks colors into categories of 'warm' and 'cold' (so much for the science of spectroscopy in that society) !
The Eskimos have many different words for snow. Unless we ski a lot, most of us use one- 'snow.'
Christian missionaries in Hawaii were shocked to find no word or concept for sin.
In (North) American society, we tend to treat physical objects as if they had wills of their own. If a pen rolls off a table, we'll say 'It fell off.' or 'It rolled off the table and fell on the floor.' The Russian culture works differently. Their response would be something like 'They did it.' or 'They caused it to fall on the floor.'

Are we slaves to our language? The language we speak predisposes us to see the world in certain ways, but language is extremely flexible. As we find ourselves lacking words to describe new ideas, machines, processes, and technologies, we coin new terms and phrases. 'Black holes, ' 'Quarks, ' and even 'Supply side economics, ' are all creations of the mind and examples showing where language has lagged behind conceptual ideas in the mind.

Terms and Definitions

Related terms and definitions:

Cultural universals: These imply practices common to every culture. We've already discussed the Anthropologist, George Murdock's proposed list of general traits found in every culture. It seems that there are a large number of very general traits common to all cultures, but no specific ones like what, exactly, defines murder, incest, etc. in a society?
Ethnocentrism: This is the tendency to judge other cultures by the standards of our own. ('Body Ritual Among the Nacirema') .
Cultural relativism: The recognition that one culture cannot be arbitrarily judged by the standards of another. We need to adopt this stance when studying other cultures.
Cultural Integration: Culture is not a random assemblage of skills, customs, values, and beliefs. These elements are woven into a definite pattern and are somehow related to one another.
Cultural Diversity: Common culture gives us a sense of identity but there is a great deal of variation among groups. We witness cultural diversity on both the international and national levels. We've already talked about regional differences when we compared the North with the South in the United States.
Subcultures: Within a culture there may exist groups of people who have their own distinct sets of values, customs, and lifestyles. (Italian Americans, African Americans, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, the young, the middle-aged, the old, etc.) . We can even say that there is a subculture of college life.
Countercultures: a counterculture that is fundamentally at odds with the dominant culture. (The youth movement of the 1960's, for example) .
Real and Ideal culture: Ideal culture is what the values say we believe in, what we should practice, while real culture is what actually exists. Often there is a discrepancy between the two resulting in cultural strain.

Approaches to the Study of Culture

There are several approaches to the study of culture. Here are two examples:

Functionalism looks at the roles that components of culture play in maintaining the social order as a whole. What are the consequences for a society if we remove or change one element of its culture? (i.e. in America, the computer) . The problem with this approach is that it tends to overlook change when stressing the functional relationships between variables. It also has a pejorative or negative view of unbalance in the system, even when such unbalance may mean social improvement.


The Ecological approach examines the culture of a given society in relation to the total environment in which it exists. For example, why do people in India let sacred cows roam the streets by the millions (100 million) when so many people are hungry? One reason is that cows are needed to produce the oxen which Indian farmers must have to plow the fields. Without them, even more people will starve. Also, the cows produce over 700 million tons of manure each year. Half of it is used for fertilizer; the other half is used for fuel. When the cows die, they are eaten by the untouchables or outcasts who are the hungriest people in the population. The cows' hides are used in the leather industry.

Are we prisoners of our Culture?

No. Culture does make humans what they are, but humans also make culture. We constantly make changes to our culture. It guides us through life, but we also change and modify it to our needs and desires. If we could not do this, everything would be the same from generation to generation just like the bees and termites. It's hard for 2. Processes of cultural change: Cultural change is usually slow and deliberate. When changes occur in one cultural element (the economy) changes can be expected elsewhere (politics) . Things generally tend to be linked together.

There are three mechanisms by which cultural change occurs:

Discovery the perception or recognition of something that already exists- fire, the New World.
Invention combining old knowledge to produce something that did not exist before, the compass, for example.
Diffusion the spread of cultural elements from one culture to another. i.e. gun powder from China to the West. Most cultural change occurs in this manner- (Linton's 'One hundred Percent American' article) .

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Human beings

Lovely attractive
And gentle this
Human form
I'm human being.

In this human form
Anything can be achieved
By performing own duties
Without any attachment
Free from malice
Towards all beings.

Reaching goal
Where you are
My love my soul
I'm pure human being
And a lighted current flow.

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There are two kinds of intelligence;

The first one is acquired from childhood,
school, and workplace
Collected information from traditional sources

The second, is an Archive preserved inside
A fountainhead flowing from within, outward

First lives in brain
Second lives in soul

First, logical
Second, reasonable

First, smart
Second, wise

“Blessed we human beings
With so much to us gifted
Forgiven be our failings
Until to Heaven lifted”


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Only Darkness Is Left

Great days of freedom and fun,
now I am back, stuck in my chair,
stuck with a text, stuck with myself -
that's it, I'm stuck with ME and I'm
boring myself to death

Dying while trying to read a light-
hearted fantasy, dying while listening
to a cold dissertation on children's
literature by adults who remonstrate
with me for reading it

WRONGLY, we're not supposed to read
anything for enjoyment, life is supposed
to be hard and we should suffer - only
they are smart and suffer in an adult,
grown-up way while I

Suffer like a child - unable to be cold
and cynical about the general human
condition of waging wars for survival
and fighting for justice, spreading
suffering more equally

We cannot lift ALL people to a state of
joy and privilege - but luckily we can
attain brotherhood and equality by
dragging all people down to the
same desperate state

Cynical and cool adolescent insight
into the useless nature of life - at
least I am glad to oblige these
people by admitting life is hell -
now I feel better again

Glad in finding compelling reasons for
my stupidity and low IQ, my inability
to concentrate - I was put on earth
to make clever people look good -
my pain is meaningful

Serving as the black background of
ignorance against which the bright
intelligence of more privileged
human beings appears to
more advantage

I am cast as the class dunce - once I
accept my role of being an attendant
to my superiors I can gambol again,
happy in the reassurance that others
are blessed by me:

Their brilliant shine appears more
scintillating against a sombre back-
ground of idiots with black holes in
their minds which suck in the light
of knowledge until

Only darkness is left...

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