Borrowing ideas from other nations and adapting them to fit your own culture has been the norm since the history of human civilizations. The Greeks took papyrus and scrolls from the Egyptians, made libraries, and educated the world. The Italians learned how to make noodles from the Chinese and established a world-renowned cuisine. Recently, US Americans have popularized the more practical Mexican taco snack into a typical, Tex-Mex American meal. And the list goes on and on. Many things define one’s culture, and often borrowed ideas become more significant cultural symbols within a new, evolving culture. The United States of America is a perfect example of this with its hodgepodge culture of various ideas, objects, foods, and customs borrowed from the millions of immigrants who migrated to make a new home for themselves.
Some may criticize the modern revolution of a cultural item, stating that it is disrespectful to the items’ traditional essence, and hence, loses its historical and cultural significance. But then again, US Americans are not the only ones guilty of this. All cultures adapt items to fit into their cultural schema. In comparison to the Americans take on green tea, Koreans put corn on pizza, Japanese eat shrimp burgers with buns made from rice, and Indians make some of their hamburgers out of mutton. A new trend in Asia is for girls to wear the Punjab tops with Euro-American jeans instead of with the Punjab bottoms. “New fashion,” they call it. And many countries now have their versions of American Idol. The list is long.
So, where do we draw the line? From the dawning of civilization, a vast amount of societies have shared, stolen, and incorporated new ideas from all over the world into their constantly changing culture. At the same time, groups of people love to do things their way with the premise that, ours is a culture of our own ideas, grand ideas, correct ideas. No one else can do it better.
Maybe as the world continues to become more global, the beauty is the discovery that everyone has something appetizing to bring to the smorgasbord of life.
Just don’t expect everyone to eat it in the same way.
–Gene Edgerton and Emily Mahoney. Edited by Veronica Leal