What is culture? According to Merriam-Webster it is:
- the beliefs, customs, arts,etc. of a particular society, group, place, or time
- a particular society that has its own beliefs, ways of life, art, etc.
- a way of thinking, behaving, or working that exists in a place or organization (such as a business)
What is heritage? Again according to Merriam-Webster it is:
- the traditions, achievements, beliefs, etc. that are part of the history of a group or nation
Put them together for cultural heritage, and you have the beliefs, customs, traditions of a particular group, or society. However, in the context that I am going to talk about I am not specifying any one particular group. Instead I am advocating that “we,” as the human race, all share in a cultural heritage. No one race or nation is above another and we all lose something when items from different cultures are destroyed.
There are many things that break my heart, which is one of the reasons why I started this blog. I wanted to share issues in a non-judgmental way by sharing what others might be doing to help. One issue, that is breaking my heart right now, especially given my background as a history major, is the destruction of our cultural sites by extremists. I specifically address this as “ours” because we are all part of the human race and we have a stake in cultural identities across the globe. It is bad enough if a natural disaster hits and destroys part of our cultural heritage, but blatant destruction is frankly soul crushing.
I do realize that over the history of the human race, we have destroyed cultural items from the buildings to the art of our perceived enemies. However, should we not know better by now? Some things do not seem to change, no matter what age we live in. However, I, for one, think it is important to bring awareness and stand for preservation. There are some powerful organizations who believe this too.
UNESCO has started a campaign #Unite4Heritage.
#Unite4Heritage uses the power of social networks to create a global movement where each one of us can raise our voice and take action for safeguarding heritage under threat, in Iraq and elsewhere. #Unite4Heritage shows that diversity is a source of strength for all societies. To build peace tomorrow, we need to protect our common heritage today.
War and extremists are taking their toll, especially in the Middle East. Many sites in Syria have been destroyed, such as the great mosque of Aleppo, which was obliterated in 2013. The citadel of Aleppo is being used as an army base and, consequently, many historic buildings have been destroyed after surviving for four millennia, and Palmyra, an Aramaic city from the second millennia BC is thought to have been looted. Now, Iraq, too, is coming under fire from the extremists who took to destroying Nimrud, the ancient Assyrian city. These are just a few examples of what is going on and why we as a global people need to stand and say “this is not okay.”
(The Great Mosque at Aleppo, before and after)
To show your support you can:
- Take a photo of your favourite heritage site or artefact and tell why it is important to you.
- Post it to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the #Unite4Heritage hashtag.
- Take a selfie while you are holding a sign with #Unite4Heritage on it – and post that as well, it will be added to the campaign website.
- Spread the word and help share the values of tolerance, diversity and respect.