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Culture Regeneration

Culture Regeneration

Hello and good day!

A mother came into our chocolate shop one afternoon with a little five-month-old baby. The baby boy was asleep when she came in.

He was sleeping soundly in a comfy car seat/stroller combo.

I am always retroactively envious when I see these because I didn't have one when our kids were babies.

It is beautiful engineering and makes all the sense in the world.

The baby falls asleep in the car.

You pull the entire car seat out and snap it directly into a stroller.

I always took our babies out of their car seats and tried to put them into their strollers without waking them.

I was rarely successful and instead of enjoying a quiet stroll, pushing a tranquil, resting, baby, I'd have to soothe a baby who had been unexpectedly roused from their slumber.

In the case of the mother who came in with her five-month-old, the baby slept excellently, and mom was able to enjoy herself.

After a good stretch of adult conversation, sampling chocolates, and browsing, the baby woke up.

Mom lifted him out of the stroller and bounced him softly with a deep stepped rhythmic walk.

But that didn't stave off the crying, and mom took him out to the car for nursing.

When she came back to the shop, to finalize her purchase and retrieve her gear, the little munchkin was in a good mood.

He was smiling at everybody with a very funny toothless smile.

One of the most powerful forces in the world is a smiling baby.

My brother Brian and I were manning the shop, working an owner's shift.

We completely blew off our responsibilities for several minutes to make faces at the baby.

The little boy was a crowd pleaser, and he rewarded our fawning with a long sequence of charming baby smiles.

Mom paid and put the happy baby back in his stroller before wheeling him out into an unseasonably warm and sunny early spring day.

Once the mother had departed, I turned to Brian.

"That baby has no idea that he was just in a chocolate shop," I said.

"Nor does he have any idea who we are, where people like us come from, or why we were smiling and making faces at him," said Brian.

"What does a baby know?" I asked.

The question lingered and we both fell into a thoughtful silence.

Finally, my brother spoke up.

"I don't actually know what babies know," he said.

"Me neither. We have five kids between the two of us. We've seen them all grow from babies into kids and teenagers, and neither of us can think of a good answer to this question," I said.

Customers came in at this juncture in the story.

We were never able to pick the conversation back up because we were busy the rest of the day.

I've been thinking about this mystery a lot since then and doing a bit of research, but I haven't been able to find any answers that I can fully wrap my head around.

It's kind of like asking what a dolphin knows.

In theory, you can explain it through research and experimentation, but unless you can see the world consciously through the eyes of a baby or a dolphin, it is very difficult to conceptualize.

However, we do know this.

The natural tendency of human beings is to grow physically and increase in cognitive ability.

Growth stops in our late teens to early twenties and cognitive ability tends to plateau somewhere in our mid-thirties.

Here is a very peculiar thing.

You can make a human know what you want them to know.

This is separate from cognitive function.

For example, an adult living in North Korea who has never been taught otherwise can know with absolute certainty that their leader is a demi-god.

This knowledge has been inculcated into them from a very young age with no opposing viewpoint.

Simultaneously, a person who knows that their leader is a demi-god can also have a thorough grasp of the laws of physics, and an extreme mastery of mathematics, such that they are a world leading expert on rocket propulsion.

The same person can know both of those things at the same time and since the two pieces of knowledge don't logically contradict each other, the individual won't suffer from cognitive dissonance.

There are also many things that people don't know that you assume they do.

I'm 41.

My dad has pounded two key teachings into my head my entire life.

First, a good person always works hard.

Second, you never quit something you care about before it succeeds.

Both of these pieces of knowledge go against human nature.

The human body is biologically wired to conserve energy.

It wants to be lazy.

However, for most of human existence, laziness was not an option.

A person had to work hard physically to produce life's sustenance.

Since the industrial revolution, laziness is an option in many parts of the world.

Machines can do the work that people used to have to do.

I don't know how long it took my dad to make me know that good people always work hard.

To make me know it, he had to inculcate it so deeply that it overrode my natural desire to be lazy.

Somewhere along the line, he succeeded.

However, a baby doesn't come into the world knowing that hard work is good.

In fact, they will naturally believe the opposite and parents can easily reinforce their biological inclination.

A baby knows how to smile at strangers, but they haven't learned about hard work, and they won't know about it unless somebody makes a sustained effort to teach it to them.

Such is the case with all knowledge.

Culture is a reflection of collective knowledge at a given point in time.

It is more or less the average of what people in a society know.

The famous business writer Peter Drucker has a famous quote about company cultures.

He wrote that "Culture eats strategy for breakfast."

In other words, what people know and how they act is far more powerful than a business plan.

A coach can call all the right plays, but if the players don't give their full effort, they will lose the game.

A general can have an ingenious battle plan but if the troops turn tail and run when the fighting gets hot, the army will be defeated.

I'm prepared to argue that culture also eats politics for breakfast.

I'd also argue that politics is a part of culture and a reflection of it.

In either case, culture reveals knowledge, and knowledge must be taught over and over again.

Babies are blank slates.

They will know whatever their parents and their community teach them.

And this occurs with every single baby that is ever born.

Culture must be regenerated over and over again.

It is a never-ending process.

This means that we all have to be in the teaching game for almost our entire lives, if we want a good, well-functioning society to endure.

I had more that I wanted to talk about, but I am out of space for now.

Thank you so much for your time today.

I hope that you have a truly blessed day!


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