The other day I set to wondering what Joseph would make of his Spanish heritage – much more immediate for him with Spanish grandparents than my own distant Scottish and Irish relatives whom I was born too late to meet.  But I suspect the answer will be “not much” – that he will grow up like all children of the twenty-first century, considering national and regional cultures to be a thing of only historical significance.  Cheap travel and global communications are already merging cultures, and the pace of the change is only going to increase.

McDonalds in Fanateer, Saudi Arabia

McDonalds in Fanateer, Saudi Arabia

In a way, it’s sad – like the loss of a species or a language, the erosion of a cultural identity is removing information from the world that we can’t necessarily get back when we decide we want it again.

But on the other hand, the more blended global cultures become, the more possibilities we have. Our common memes are making us immune to “culture shock” and allowing us to communicate with other people who a century ago we would have thought of as ‘alien’ – turns out, of course, they’re just like us. A society that has given up on the need to hold onto its historical culture can integrate everybody and every good idea, no matter how ‘alien’.

It’s started. Chinese food is no longer exotic, it’s just food. Coke and McDonalds aren’t American, because they’re everywhere. Good ideas – even ones high in saturated fat – belong to the world, not the country where they began.

So regardless of what my son thinks of his Spanish roots, I look forward to a future where he can travel and communicate with others from the far corners of the world without cultural differences getting in the way.