I intend to write also about cultural heritage – among other things – in these pages, there hasn`t been a single note though in this topic since I`ve started this project. I think I was trying to avoid writing on this as I was a bit afraid of not being able to share my sometimes hectic thoughts in a proper and organized way. Now its time to reveal what cultural heritage really means to me and why I am so keen on this subject. Though I am striving to take a deep dive in this filed and I am bringing lots of related thoughts and feelings from home, I am very far from an expert. Having said that a very personal post will follow.
When I think about heritage it`s something that is passive in nature – you don`t work hard to get it, it just happens. Sometimes you love it, sometimes you hate it – but you cannot avoid it. We cannot do anything against inheriting our features, models, customs, recipe, house, culture from the family as well as from the society. They simply affect our personality since birth. The only thing we can do is to live with them: nurture them if we appreciate them, and trying to digest them if they`ve traumatized us. And the same goes to individual level and on the level of society too.
Having said that heritage unquestionably determines who we are and who we are going to be – depending on what extent we want to protect or process our inherited models. But for being able to do so we need to know and learn – this is what self-knowledge means on individual level (I need to know what models and what family heritage lie behind my motives and behaviors) and what cultural heritage means on social level.
I incline to use the term of cultural heritage in a broader sense, almost as a synonym for socialization, but at the same time focusing on the more specific built and non-tangible heritage. The reason for that more inclusive concept is that cultural heritage is not a stable term, it always changes according to the actual political trends depending on what authorities want to highlight and to be proud of (or they want the people to be proud of). Even global organizations, like UNESCO, are thoroughly politicized and they are presenting somewhat canonized values. There might be heritage sites which deserve to be highlighted but they are not, or other way around, not all the highlighted sites should be in the circle. We receive values and declared heritage trough a filter, which is overall fine as we definitely don`t have the capacity to process every detail.
On the other hand I think it can be a great hobby or even a passion keeping our eyes open wherever we go and trying to understand our environment: in the street we live in, in our hometown, in the neighborhood we work in, or the place we travel to. If we want to know ourselves thoroughly we need to understand our surroundings, why this house looks like a certain way, who else lived in the street I grew up in, why my grandma used a certain word for a fruit which others in the next town did`t even understand. In an ideal world, where appreciating our environment and real cultural heritage is a hot topic, some ignorant propaganda won`t have the chance to affect citizens` entire life.
In an ideal world people understand, know, appreciate and protect cultural heritage. In an ideal world people accept heritage, as it is, not wanting to change it according to their political goals. Helping communities in this journey NGOs and civil initiatives have come a long way already and they have very significant role to get people love their tangible and non-tangible heritage.
When it comes to travel, beside that it`s a great activity to have fun and recharge our batteries, we have the opportunity to take a look at our global heritage. This way we can understand where weird or even shocking customs come from, and we are able to recognize that though every country or community is unique in their own way, they are not segregated. There is no food or no language which has a single origin – everything affects everything, people and communities took certain things from each other and this special mix makes them what they are today or what they will be thousands years from now.
So why getting to know local and global heritage is important? On one hand I think because it`s part of self-knowledge, and a person, who know him/herself also accepts his or her motivation, behavior, won`t trouble others with his or her frustration (or just occasionally). The same goes for cultural heritage – if we understand something, we will like it, or at least accept it. If we like something then we take care of it. And if we take care of our heritage, we take care of each other and our environment, may it be built or natural.
To cut the long story short: Travel with Care for Worldpeace! 🙂