The Norman Transcript

Columns

May 24, 2012

What features create a cultural center?

NORMAN — The question has been raised whether an aquatic center somehow constitutes a cultural center. Although the more thorough response would be to ask, in turn, what features create a cultural center, this short treatise will simply focus on answering the immediate question from first principles.

Culture is an abstract concept with very broad connotations, so that one man’s culture is another man’s boring ennui. But predominant in the broad context of culture is an appreciation that mankind is loosely grouped into collections of people who share some set of cultural values.

There is no set rule as to the precise makeup of those values, nor whether every single person within a group must share every single value. Rather, the more profound notion is that citizens can come together over shared values and exchange other value-oriented thoughts and ideas.

Thus, a cultural center can be thought of as a venue where citizens can gather and exchange thoughts and ideas related to their own personal perception of culture. This type of exchange is the fundamental premise of true diversity: the diversity of thought.

While most citizens in Norman and in the central part of the U.S. have a moderately similar cultural outlook, we are certainly not all carbon copies of each other. However, on a cool, fall afternoon when the Sooners play football in Norman, 83,000 fans with very diverse political, religious and artistic interests — a broad range of ages, a melting pot of clothing styles — all come together to cheer on the home team.

During Game Day, people who have never met exchange greetings, perhaps discuss college football and, more importantly, discuss other interests or passions. They may discuss art, music, guns, politics, education or other sports. Does the fact that the venue is a football game preclude it from being a cultural event? No.

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