We Are All, Always Civilizing Others to Fit our Personal Culture

“It’s not just that we all tend to build our own little claustrophobic kingdoms, but that we want the people who are around us to keep the rules of our kingdoms as well. So, we all have ways of enculturating the people around us. The engaged woman enculturates her fiancé in the rules of her kingdom by inflicting him with silence when he doesn’t give her the compliments that she seeks. After four or five of these moments of silence, he learns the rules and the necessity of keeping them. The father, who wants peace and quiet in the house while he is reading the paper, enculturates his family by his angry outbursts. Before long, they all learn to tiptoe around him when he has the newspaper in his hands. The boss who is obsessed with his own success enculturates his employees in the rules of his kingdom by a system of threats and rewards. Before long each of his employees is “civilized” and toes the line as demanded. The junior high kids enculturate their peer into their civilization of appearance, by their mocking laughter when he wears something that is not approved. He learns the rules quickly, quits letting his mom choose his clothes for him, and determines to only wear what is on the “cool” list. In each example, people are being civilized— that is, taught the rules of the little kingdom and told what will happen if they don’t stay within those rules.” -Paul Tripp

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