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Should there be any push for a culture to change one of its views? SQ: When does a culture lose its uniqueness, if changing its views?

Older description:
This came up when I heard on the radio that when Obama was talking to some prime minister or something about gay marriage and right, the prime minister responded with something along the lines of, "You are forgetting about our culture" or "Our culture does not approve of these sort of things" (it'd be great if someone could find that quote; I think it was on NPR). Do you think this is a valid argument for not giving homosexuals rights? Should a culture adjust as more evidence comes forth opposing their views? For example, should buddhism (maybe hinduism, I don't know much about religions beside popular western ones) still include a deity in their religion that controls rain even though we know how rain is created and can decently track where it's going to fall? And if you think a culture or religion should stay with its traditions, for how long should they continue doing things as they have been done before?

Newer description:
Time seems to be the main factor many people think is involved in a culture changing its views. Should some views be encouraged because of their importance or should we go for more the Taoist wu wei (I sort of think as going with the flow) and let the culture change when it's ready?
For the subquestion (SQ), if all cultures are almost assimilating (I'm sure there's a better word for this) their views (I'm trying to say that if all cultures are starting to believe in the same things...), when does a culture no longer remain that culture?

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    Jun 30 2013: I can see a cultural group evolving.
    Most all cultures have some noble traditions and some traditions that others might find not so noble. What is fascinating is not the difference in cultures around the but the similarities. Historically, cultures were shaped by environmental influences. Which is probably unremarkable in that if a culture did not, it probably wouldn't survive.

    The matter of gay rights etc. were used as an example of rapid changes in modern society and cultural reluctance to change.
    OK, I'll be the devils advocate.
    The question begs, why did a culture assume the position that gay rights, etc. were unacceptable?
    Historically, we know that in certain cultures, gays were honored members of society.
    So why?
    We can't address if a cultural group should change it's traditions or codes unless we can understand why they hold these traditions.
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    Jul 2 2013: Thanks, your question now looks more objective.
    When discussing cultural changes (reformative or evolutionary) it is necessary to understand how it comes to exist in certain way. In the most general level, all cultures start from purely environmental/survival norms. We see the vestiges of this in food habits, clothing, manners etc. Things start to become complicated when religion comes in. In most cases religion induces a moral imperative in cultures that creates a false sense of superiority over other cultures. Apart from being aggressive to other cultures, it increases the 'otherness' as something to be unwelcome and give birth to sub-cultures as social reaction. As counter reaction authorities grow within culture and memes like cultural stasis take place. This is more or less how significant cultures in the world come to exist.
    It is only when we understand that a given set of values in a culture have become static in the name of tradition while it is realized that those values are not really relevant in contemporary life, yes, there should be push towards changing it to a newer, more relevant set of values. This is the work of social reformers.
    But the ground of such changes may take long time to prepare and if such change is hastened by fashion, legislation and activism, there can be cultural tremors.
    The best bet, IMHO, is to inculcate a religion-free and reason based morality as the ethos of a culture. This takes of a lot of baggage.
    Both US and India had remained 'traditionally' cultures where religion played a very important part for centuries. Europe, in comparison is free from such traditional pressure. That a preponderance or lack of such per-existing social order can successfully bring prosperity even without democracy is exemplified by China. It's a cultural choice. After watching Eric Li's talk in TED, my wife opined that she will prefer to stay less prosperous than living in a culture that does not value democracy.
    I shall talk about the SQ later.
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    Jun 30 2013: No That's not a valid argument, if not outright stupid.
    Culture is a dynamic process and there is enough historical evidence that it goes through reforms - either revolutionary or paradigm based. I grew up hearing that US will never have a President of non-white origin. In India we have a saying that a Muslim will never make it to be a prime minister. I think it is a matter of time before that is proven wrong.
    Those who maintain that a culture has an eternal set of values are out of their minds.
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        Jun 30 2013: If some still think as you say, then has the culture really changed yet?
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        Jun 30 2013: If the majority have change and a few have not.... Let me think..... Yep! Maybe we can classify them as a counter subculture.
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      Jun 30 2013: PM.
      I am not sure your upbringing reflected the American culture about the racial makeup of the president. I mean there are always cries in the dark, No drunken general president, no country bumkin president, no catholic, no cripple, I mean the list is endless, the only restrictions to be elected president is a native born citizen and 35 years old. That must leave over 100 million Americans eligible, including me.unless you want to include fat old men, a little crippled to that list of no-nos. But enough of my political ambitions,

      What concerns me with where this conversation is going... do we want to say that 'this' culture is morally correct or ethical because of some held belief. Gay rights as stated. And ' that' culture is unacceptably wrong because it does not recognize gay rights as stated.
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        Jul 1 2013: I don't think anyone is saying nor implying any culture is morally correct or incorrect. But I think we can at least agree that some aspects or values of some cultures may be very prejudiced against certain types of people. For gay rights, we know now that sexuality is not a choice (there are some who choose to go one way or the other, but that is because they were near the middle of the spectrum to begin with). It's as much a choice for many as is choosing skin color. If cultures exile and treat poorly people that are gay even with all this knowledge about sexuality, I don't think it would be illogical to say that their particular view on gay rights is wrong or immoral. Just like in America when we had legal slaves. Our culture wasn't wrong as a whole, but I believe that that aspect of our culture was immoral and wrong.
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          Jul 1 2013: I understand in this matter that sexuality is not a choice but a chance as one wag has noted. So, that understanding is evolving in the USA. I had a person challenge that point recently and I asked him to go out tomorrow and become gay.
          He said "why would I do that"
          I said "Exactly"
          I have been exposed to cultures that were political monarchies and held cultural values 500 years old.
          My point is before we judge other cultures, we should better understand them.
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      Jul 1 2013: Sorry if this seems rushed, but I accidentally deleted everything I just typed. I'll probably do more summarizing then using examples (just reply if you want me to give some examples/theought emperiment type things).

      I think all cultures have an eternal set of values and beliefs. If not, what would make it unique? If Christians did not believe in God or in the teachings of Christ, would it still be Christianity? Every culture has foundations that it was built on (that I believe are eternal), and if those are taken away it is no longer that particular culture and has changed into something else.

      I do agree with you that this question needs to be refined. I'll be working on it.
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      Jul 1 2013: Aren't the big changes the most important? Do you think we should encourage some cultures to change if the change is more important (importance measured by giving equal rights, less prejudice, etc.)?
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    Jun 29 2013: A culture staying with no evolution may soon be fossilized, and that would be a big lost. Life is evolution, and everything must evolve just so much as necessary, proper or reasonable. Progressing, changing, evolving are very good deals.
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    Jun 29 2013: We do not need to think of our cultures as static things. A culture is not a snapshot in time.
  • Jun 29 2013: These are complicated issues so it depends. Maybe we shouldn't lecture God. There are answers for a secular society and different ones for a religion.
  • Jun 29 2013: Tradition is very retrogressive, how far along would modern science be had its growth not been stunned by religion before, during and after the dark ages.

    Parents are to blame.
    Parent-child relationships should not be based on the impartation of tradition but of knowledge. Knowledge, especially that from science, changes with time as we come to understand more about reality.
    Tradition ignores reality and stays firm in its beliefs, it remains the same in the face of irrefutable evidence, this is detrimental to the progression of mankind.
    It pisses me off that We could be riding in flying cars and taking regular vacations to the moon in the next 100 years...while simultaneously fearful of black cats crossing our paths.

    Here in South Africa its no coincidence that rural areas ( known to be drenched in tradition ) are in an almost permanent state of stagnation.
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    Jun 28 2013: Barry's right Kai, we are transient.
  • Jun 28 2013: Cultures that do not change, die.