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A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots

By SarahYERIKO Mar 04, 2014 985 Words
A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots. – Marcus Garvey

According to science, out of all of the parts of a tree, roots are quite an important feature. It has several purposes, adsorbing water and vital nutrients from the ground and into the rest of the tree, supporting the whole tree, from the bark, to the leaves to the fruit/flowers it produces. It also helps stabilize the tree so it wouldn’t fall down easily when the weather is tough. The roots are the foundation of the tree, without it, the rest of the tree would dry up and die, moreover, the structure of the tree would be quite unstable, as it has nothing to grip the soil with and die easily due to lack of water and vital minerals.

So what is culture and how is culture to people like roots to a tree? On sources like the Internet, culture is defined as an “act or a belief of a racial, religious or social group”. Cultures are tools which helps binds people together, a rich source of wisdom, knowledge and an instrument which keeps the successful humble, in short, the greatest element in keeping order in humanity. Keep in mind here that “a people” in this quote is sort of like a group of people, but with similarities which bonds/categorizes them e.g. culture. Like a tree, people who have knowledge of their cultures and their past would have a foundation to support them. This enables the group to hold onto the ground and not get uprooted when storms or big winds come, promising stability to the whole tree. The roots would also help provide tree with important nutrients and other vitamins from the soil, which allows the tree to bear fruits and flowers. In this case, knowledge and wisdom of the culture provides the people to bring wealth, health, prosperity and peace. It is also a known fact that as the tree grows larger; the roots have to grow in length in proportion to the growth of the tree. So that the support and stability needed for the growing structure of the tree are met. Failing to follow this simple yet vastly ignored rule would result in the structure of the society would be unbalanced and topple over, similarly to the bark of the tree. Which shows us that our culture must grow in proportion to the plurality of the individuals in our group.

With the help of Globalization, different types of cultures are being shared around the world, logically speaking; combining traditions, knowledge and wisdom would increase the overall human culture on the planet right? In reality, not all things go as planned. As the richer, more developed countries would dominate the trade it would also dominate the Cultural Revolution pop culture is a fitting example of this.

On one hand, countries that correctly use their cultural roots would benefit in wisdom from the Cultural Revolution. There are quite a few cultures that follow this trait (most of the countries originate in Asia). China, India and Japan are the most cultured ethic groups and yet the most economically successful. Just less than 50 years ago, all of the countries are experiencing various economic crisis such as war. The core of all their successes are obviously not based on money or weaponry power, neither is it from large numbers of people or the size of the country. Instead, the support comes from their deep, still intact roots of their cultures dating back to 6000 years+, providing knowledge and wise teachings to the people through ethics and traditions. This enables the whole tree to survive the winds and floods, ending with a much more fertile soil after the disaster.

Unfortunately, on the other hand, there are numerous types of ethic groups who don’t follow or even have any respect left for their own cultures. There is hunger, ignorance and hatred lingering still within the society, killing the tree and it’s roots daily. Without knowledge and wisdom, individuals in the group are increasing in instability as only a few are extremely wealthy and most of the people in that group are in poverty. Another outcome of this cause is the shallow thinking of others, becoming murderers, prostitutes and drug users. These groups are like trees with rotting roots, unable to provide any water or nutrients and destroying their future. Without the foundation the tree would experience yellowing leaves and dying branches. Which a small gust of wind can easily damage the tree.

This quote by Marcus Garvey is targeted to African people, who have forgotten their culture. Some people think that the main cause of this is found in the European’s divide and conquer technique and America’s public school system, where history classes are mainly about the European and the American culture. Rarely is there any topic about African or African American culture covered due to racism. Garvey is pointing to us that before globalization; the first civilizations (Africans) have deep rooted cultures, designing their own economy, weapons and jewelry before spreading to Europe. Sadly, this culture is being replaced by the western version of African culture, where they believed that Africa is where savages ran wild.

My country, Indonesia is one of the countries that have a lot of cultures, from traditions, to traditional crafts to myths and legends. Which probably was the core support for the soldiers who bravely risk their lives in the Javanese war against the Dutch. In reality, I am actually quite ashamed that moving down the modern Indonesian generations seemed to have decreasing respect of culture and traditions. We’re slowly giving in to consumerism and losing our roots and traditions.


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