Something Greater: Culture, Family, and Community as Living Story


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In direct and subtle ways, children are molded by the family culture into which they are born. Growing up, their assumptions about what is right and wrong, good and bad, reflect the beliefs, values and traditions of the family culture. Even those who later reject all or part of the family culture often discover that they are not entirely free of their early influences. No matter that they promise themselves they will never repeat the mistakes of their own family—certain cultural attitudes and responses are so ingrained in family members that they continue to affect their thinking and behavior, whether or not those individuals are aware of such influence.

To say that families have identifiable cultures, however, is not to suggest that they are static. Families are in a constant state of transition as each member moves through the cycles of life and the family itself moves from one stage of development to the next. Marriages, births, divorces and deaths change the family constellation and, in profound ways, alter the family culture. Simultaneously, larger political, economic and social forces also impinge on the family culture. The social revolution that began in the s, for example, changed—among other things—attitudes and expectations about the roles of men and women.

The boy or girl raised in a family in which mother and aunts are professional women is exposed to a very different family culture from the one their grandparents knew. In the s, management theorists and consultants popularized the concept of organizational culture. They described corporations in anthropological terms, pointing to their social structure, norms and laws, language, dress codes and even their artifacts. Organizations with distinct cultures invariably bore the imprint of their founders. The corps of clean-shaven IBM executives dressed in white shirts and blue suits reflected the personality, beliefs and style of Thomas Watson, Sr.

Like corporations, family foundations have distinct organizational cultures, and they are as varied as the families that generate them. As in corporations, the values and norms of the founders and their families determine the focus of the foundation as well as how it is governed, how conflicts are handled and how emotions are expressed.

Chapter 3 – Family and Marriage

To recognize the effects of family culture on the style and direction of a family foundation, Chapter 1 will look at four particular cultural attributes: values, norms, traditions and conformity. Each is examined below. The values of the family set the basic tone for the family foundation. Entrepreneurs with the single-mindedness and drive to amass fortunes often have powerful and compelling personalities to match. Not surprisingly, then, they shape foundations in their image and according to their values, philosophy and preferred style of management—just as they did their business.

One such man was A. Born shortly after the assassination of President Lincoln, he was named by his immigrant parents in honor of the fallen president. Filene remained true to his namesake; throughout his life, he held progressive political views and acted on them. The Filene brothers were the first to employ a full-time nurse in their store as an employee benefit in an era when most workers could not afford good medical care. They also promoted the creation of credit unions to help workers generate purchasing power. Lincoln Filene was as engaged in the world as he was in his store.

In the s he established programs for Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany with the dual purpose of helping them get jobs and learn what it means to be an American. In the s he created the Filene Center for Civic Participation at Tufts University, and he also helped establish the first public broadcasting station in Boston. Lincoln Filene would be pleased that today, members of the third, fourth and fifth generations of the family serve side by side on the board and on program committees carrying out the work he began on issues involving civic education, public broadcasting and job training.

In some cases, they motivate them to take an opposite course. Forced to leave school to support his family, Raymond began delivering oil from a single barrel on the back of a truck. He eventually built his one-man business into the largest oil company in the Southeast.

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Growing up with family and culture is a human right. It's also essential for healing

He spent his health in gaining wealth, and then spent his wealth to regain his health. I decided to look for meaning elsewhere. Ordained as an Episcopal priest, he and his wife, Margaret, chose to raise their family in modest circumstances. He invited his brothers, along with his cousins from the Mobley side of the family, to sit on the board.

It never happened. Later, he would try again, inviting his children on the board when they came of age.

The population at risk for chronic conditions will become more diverse

It is not only the values of the person who creates the family wealth that stamp the family culture. His grandson, William Bill J. We were almost as close to our cousins as were to our own brothers and sisters. My grandfather passed on his value of family cohesiveness to his children, who passed it on to us. Now my generation is doing the same for the next generation. They, with Bill and some of his cousins, built the trucking and warehouse business into a billion-dollar-a-year operation.

In , the family discovered yet another way to tie its members together. Bill and his mother, Dorothy, the principal donor, established the William J. In keeping with the clan mentality, their goal was to involve every family member in the foundation at whatever level they could participate. Norms are the spoken and unspoken rules of cultures. Norms set standards for how family members dress, talk and act. They also set limits on what is permissible or impermissible behavior under different circumstances and conditions.

Chapter 3. Culture

More than just rules of etiquette, norms provide family members with a guide for living both within the home and without. When families establish foundations, they bring with them the rules of behavior that have governed the family culture. Originally, the board was composed of John and Marianne and their two children, Thomas and Alexandra.

If we violated those rules, my parents would only have to raise their eyebrows to let us know that our behavior was out of line. When Thomas and Alexandra went away to college in the s, they encountered a different set of norms. There, free expression was not only encouraged but considered healthy. Both Thomas and Alexandra spent several years in therapy learning how to express their feelings, and both married spouses who grew up in family cultures in which arguing and shouting were commonplace.

Nonetheless, when Thomas and Alexandra are in the company of their parents, they still follow the rules of behavior they were taught as children. Before the spouses joined the board, meetings to discuss allocations ran smoothly.

The foundation funds higher education and church-run social services programs. When the spouses joined the board, however, they had a different understanding of what their roles would be. They expected that as trustees, they would be free to debate ideas and grant proposals. But Michael persisted in arguing his positions, sometimes quite aggressively and long after they were voted down by the board. When I mentioned his behavior to my mother, she denied that anything was wrong.

As hard as the Vanboven family tries to avoid controversy, the Jacobs family welcomes it. Joe Jacobs, a child of Lebanese immigrants, grew up in poverty in Brooklyn. For this reason, subsequent attempts to define the people of South Africa may easily carry an unpleasant connotation of racist categorisation from the past. With this proviso, South Africa has a hugely diverse population, representative of a vast spectrum of different languages, practices, and values. South Africa has been famously referred to as the rainbow nation because it is made up of so many diverse cultures and religions.

This is part of the healing that democracy has brought after culture was used to divide South Africans in the past. Identity, like culture, is ever changing. For example a person can be a teacher, parent, spouse and driver to their children, as well as being a famous politician fighting for justice or a farmer growing crops for food.

To this person it is possible to be all of these and much more.


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At the same time being a person of a particular race or class also influences one's identity. When people speak of 'intersectionality,' they are broadly referring to this way that a single person can be at the intersection of multiple different social identities. The experiences of a White, heterosexual, urban, and middle-class mother, for instance, will be vastly different to that of a Black, homosexual, rural, and working class single woman.

Identity, in short, is made up of a multitude of factors and an individual is both subject to their circumstance and an agent able to influence which parts of themselves they present to the world. Heritage might be best broken up into two types: natural and cultural.

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Areas that are very special and where animals or plants are in danger of extinction like the St. They are respected and internationally protected against harm.


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Cultural heritage, on the other hand, can be an altogether more contentious issue. Normally, the term 'cultural heritage' is used to describe those things that contribute to the sense of identity of a particular population or community of people. These can be special monuments, like a building, sculpture, painting, a cave dwelling or anything important because of its history, artistic or scientific value. The area in which this can become problematic is when a part of somebody's cultural heritage seems to clash directly with the dignity of another person's, or where it appears to transgress established global human rights practices as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

An example might be the practice of female genital mutilation or the display of monuments that celebrate the lives of people who were responsible for the deaths of vast numbers of people, such as Cecil John Rhodes.

WHO | The determinants of health

A constitution is the guiding law on a country's values and rules. A constitution directs the government and all the people who live in a country on the rules for how citizens should be treated and how they should treat others. A constitution supports and protects a country and the heritage and culture of its peoples. South Africa is widely considered to have one of the fairest and most progressive constitutions in the world.

In South Africa the vision of the constitution is for everybody to be equal. This means that nobody should be permitted to discriminate against anyone else because of things like skin colour, age, religion, language or gender. South Africans have human rights that are protected. For example, some schools have turned away children who have AIDS.

In the same way the right to practice different religious beliefs is protected. Every person has the right to be part of any religion and to use the language of their choice. For this reason South Africa has 11 official languages so that all the major languages used in the country are given recognition. Languages used by smaller groups such as the Khoi, Nama, San and sign language must also be respected under the constitution. There are two types of World Heritage Sites: the first represents cultural and the second natural heritage.

Something Greater: Culture, Family, and Community as Living Story Something Greater: Culture, Family, and Community as Living Story
Something Greater: Culture, Family, and Community as Living Story Something Greater: Culture, Family, and Community as Living Story
Something Greater: Culture, Family, and Community as Living Story Something Greater: Culture, Family, and Community as Living Story
Something Greater: Culture, Family, and Community as Living Story Something Greater: Culture, Family, and Community as Living Story
Something Greater: Culture, Family, and Community as Living Story Something Greater: Culture, Family, and Community as Living Story
Something Greater: Culture, Family, and Community as Living Story Something Greater: Culture, Family, and Community as Living Story
Something Greater: Culture, Family, and Community as Living Story Something Greater: Culture, Family, and Community as Living Story
Something Greater: Culture, Family, and Community as Living Story Something Greater: Culture, Family, and Community as Living Story
Something Greater: Culture, Family, and Community as Living Story

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