Re-Constructing Culture

Martha A Bartter



In every known culture, humans operate in a systematic
manner: to survive as a society, they reproduce, raise and educate
their young, devising new and useful ways to do so, and pass these
creations on as gifts to the future. In other words, humans everywhere
deal with three important jobs: to learn an available portion of
his/her culture, to contribute to that culture in some way, and to pass
on what s/he has learned to the next generation. Alfred Korzybski
called this process time-binding,
and noted that anyone holding this view of the human process must view
all humans as valuable contributors to the world.

In the United States, most of us live in a rich and wasteful
culture. We throw garbage into “dumps” and once
it’s out of sight, we don’t think about it any
more. Our culture produces lots and lots of garbage.

One of the most important—and least
noticed—kinds of garbage we create consists of people. Since
we can’t throw them on a literal garbage dump, we have to
find other, less obvious ways of getting rid of them. After that, we
can forget they ever existed. We have many ways of assigning people to
the “garbage” category, and have invented many ways
of “dumping” them: prejudice, colonialism, poverty,
exile, taking (and misusing) their land, assimilation, genocide, and
now biocide.

Some psychologists claim that humans
“instinctively” divide people into
“known/friend” or
“unknown/enemy.” Others claim that humans
“naturally” dislike anyone who might compete with
them for resources or wealth. We must interrogate both
“instinct” and “nature” when
applied to humans. Time-binding creates a more just and humane way to
deal with our fellow humans; without a variety of humans, culture
cannot survive. I recommend that we try it.


Keywords: Time-binding; “human nature”; culture; social justice

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