Our culture places a high value on people's expertise and abilities. We treasure having the right person with the right skill set and personality for a given responsibility. In fact, a whole industry is devoted to researching and finding the perfect candidate for a job. High-performance companies and institutions typically hire trusted firms to run job searches.
For many, cultural celebrations of a new year involve the familiar ritual of reviewing the past in order to prepare and plan for a better future. We identify concrete goals and resolutions that, hopefully, will become real in the coming year. Encouraged by friends, family and colleagues, we move forward with enthusiastic resolve and purpose.
In our contemporary culture, human interactions are often transactional and impersonal. More and more, we fill out online forms to record who we are and use anonymous surveys to find out who we are becoming. For just one example, we Google others, and without ever meeting them, find all kinds of information about their demographics and social behaviors. Our personal and group identities have become so measurable and accessible that others make all kinds of accurate predictions about our lives.
In this current age, many of us are accustomed to doing things by sheer will and resolve. We value rugged individualism and take great pride in personal efforts. The Olympics were a great illustration of this high value of individual performance and achievement. In this extraordinary gathering of cultures and peoples, we witnessed how ordinary men and women exhibited extraordinary grit and determination in competition.
The summer season seems to either catch us by surprise or be something we've been awaiting for a long time. In either case, summer weather brings with a number of opportunities — ranging from family picnics and BBQ cook-outs to individual strolls and team sports in the park.
Already, see the young and the old are enjoying fresh air and sunlight. Even our normal rhythm of rising and going to bed seems to have shifted with the change in time and weather; mornings seem to come earlier and evenings seem to last longer.
A blessing and challenge of our culture is how rapidly people move from one event to another with relative ease and indifference. A variety of secular and religious rituals enter and depart in rhythmic fashion, each evoking different euphoric responses. Sports fans happily welcome the baseball season and leave behind fascination with March Madness. Movie watchers attentively watch the Oscars, even as they anticipate the upcoming summer blockbuster movies.