Lift Your Pinkie, It’s So-Sigh-Et Tea!

Once upon a time, there was such a thing as Society. In the misty past, BOE (Before the Oprah Era), people in Society were the Paris Hiltons of their day – famous for being famous.

Truth was, even back then; the Social Register folks formed only one small – but incredibly wealthy – part of society. That’s because a society is more than the folks who get their names in the news. Society is all of us.

“Society” is the term that anthropologists use for the ways that people have created to live together and satisfy certain human needs. These needs include food, shelter, physical security (“lions and tigers and bears, oh, my!”) and companionship, especially marriage and family.

For instance, remember the film, “Titanic”? Why was Rose engaged to marry such a stinker as Cal in the first place? Because she had a ‘good name in society’ but lots of family debts and he had money, but needed her family’s good name.

Rose was able to break free of her society (which was on the verge of crumbling anyway), but not everyone can, or has to. Societies give us a framework for living, and along the way we make plenty of fun and satisfaction.

So what’s your social heritage? Do you come from one of the vibrant, sun-drenched societies of Latin America, like Mexico or Argentina? Are your folks from Viking stock in Scandinavia? Did your forebears come from Africa or somewhere around the Mediterranean? Maybe you’re from one of the world’s oldest societies, such as India or China. The point is, whatever your social background, you bring with you both restrictions and benefits.

Food is a big benefit from all societies. Your mouth may water at the aroma of paella or perogies, at bouillabaisse or bratwurst, at tortellini or tortillas. Or you may be turned on by Tandoori chicken or Sichuan duck. One of the greatest gifts of our global society is that we all benefit today from the world’s variety of cuisines.

Music gives us another big benefit of society. What are your favorites? Celtic rock with bagpipes? World beat with African djembe? Maybe you groove to Reggaeton or salsa. Underneath it all, we discover that the music from our different societies all has one thing in common: The beat that mirrors our own hearts.

Society, then, is something we’ve made for ourselves. It’s like a living, breathing entity, and it changes as our needs change. Some things about our society are worth preserving, such as the gifts of our artistic expressions. Some things about our society deserve to be changed, especially when the result keeps someone from fulfilling his or her innate abilities.

In the end, human society is one of our greatest stumbling blocks and one of our greatest accomplishments. The good news is, we can change what holds us back, and carry forward with us all the social treasures we’ve created.