Georgian Culture
21 March, 2015
Georgian Culture
We are a culture which does not very well know itself. We are not the best self-analysts in the world. We possess a shining propensity of taking things for granted. We are an ancient, some would even say, a primordial culture with many traditional sharp and obtuse angles to observe and enjoy, but we have no habit of reflection on our own culture – at least slightly and sporadically. Long and deep deliberation on most salient and valuable features of our
culture is definitely not our cup of tea. Our culture is rolling as it is, and as it possibly can. It is attractive and amusing, but nobody can define and frame it exactly, based on available means and rules of modern culturalism. Georgian is a relaxed, but not totally liberated culture, which still has an immense creative power. Ours is the culture which easily attracts the hearts and minds of our foreign visitors who want to embrace it as soon as they come in touch with it. This should certainly make us proud. We are proud, but we also take it easy. Standing in between the two diametrically varying civilizations – Eastern and Western – the Georgian culture is clearly drawing at both of them, although not always very calculatingly. It is our historical lot and destiny that we go between the two so called high-context (eastern) and low-context (western) cultures. Even our physical appearance might be appertained to both sides, more so the way of thinking and living. In our everyday life, we tend to depend on both implicit and explicit communication, our average model of conduct simultaneously being covert in the Eastern style and overt in the Western way. Georgians sometimes prefer to undertake nonverbal communication which is habitual more in the East, and at other occasions the self same Georgians would give preference to sending out a verbal message as it is done in the West. In Georgia, we might do both – subordinate our tasks to person-to-person or familial relationships which would make us look more Eastern, but we may also separate the job tasks from those akin relationships which makes us feel like part of the Western culture. When it comes to decision-making, we tend to look both ways – collective enterprise as well as individual initiative, thus revealing ourselves as the reflectors of features of both cultures. We view relationship between employer and employee as a humanistic phenomenon which sounds very Eastern, but we are also inclined to render the same relationship as something mechanistic as it happens in the West. We often rely on our intuition or trust rather than facts and statistics exactly as they would do it in the East, but we might just as well find ourselves relying only on facts, statistics and other details as supporting evidence as it is done in the West. Many people in Georgia apply indirect style in writing and speaking, sounding like people who grew in the East, but we also use direct style in writing and speaking just as they practice in the West. The process of preferred reasoning in the East is always circular or indirect, and Georgians adhere to that style, but linear reasoning is part of our culture too as it happens to be in the West. The East traditionally honors the spirit of the law more than the letter of it, but the attitude in the West is utterly reversed – here the letter of the law takes prevalence over the spirit of it. Georgians are into both of them absolutely the same way. So the Georgian people and their traditionally- based and motivated conventional culture belongs in both realms of culturalistic evaluation – the high-context or eastern and low-context or western. Let us assume that those are the two extremes between which the Georgian culture has found itself ensconced as in the most suitably and favorably built golden median, continuing this kind of comfortable but not very well employed existence for millennia. Now the question is if Georgia could make the best use of this advantageous cultural position as a precious endowment from time and nature. I have lately been entertaining the idea that Georgia’s successful survival might very well depend on our chance and capability to acquire, or rather reacquire, the international functionality, applicable on both regional and international levels, making an attempt to perform a role of a mediator for lasting peace and beneficial coexistence between the nations around, who need this kind of assistance. And we all need! I am not very far from the idea that all our current vices and pitfalls, multilaterally damaging our life style, are taking roots from our disability and unwillingness to make use of our golden-median cultural position to the fullest possible extent. For this, we only need to make a learned and temperate reflection on our high-and-low-context culture, firmly and vibrantly poised on both eastern and western cultural traditions, and having made that sobering reflection, to deliberate forthwith on the ways of its best usage in our domestic and international lives. Concentration on our cultural powers and the ability to use them rationally might very well be a beeline towards the success we have been dreaming of in a long time. As I said, we take our culture for granted and never reflect on the significance of its efficiency factor. This might be worth trying. Trying should not hurt!
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