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Cultural crisis
Thursday,  1/24/2019, 21:08 

Cultural crisis

By Son Nguyen

The bell of alarm has rung again over the widespread depravity in society.

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam, at a review meeting with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in Hanoi last Saturday, gave a sketchy picture of the negative developments of the country’s culture, and demanded that the ministry join forces with relevant agencies to rebuild the core values for society. According to him, efforts must be made, on a regular basis, to fight the wrong and promote the right so as to clear up a trail for cultural development.

The topic, although not new given numerous outcries over the degradation of the cultural environment, has captured media attention, as the deputy prime minister’s strong words on forging a mechanism to check substandard cultural phenomena give a gleam of hope. Actions must begin at the culture ministry, according to Vu Duc Dam.

Numerous eyesore behaviors detrimental to the culture have been happening in broad daylight today, but the cultural sector has shown inaction, according to the deputy prime minister. Such anti-culture behaviors are diverse in form and severity, from littering in public places, violating traffic rules, jostling and elbowing others instead of queuing in public places, and trampling on flowers and grass at festivals to fighting or even killing one another over trivial conflicts, according to the news site vov.vn.

“I see saddening things happening every week, but I haven’t seen anyone at the culture ministry speak out against them,” Dam is quoted by Tuoi Tre as saying at the meeting. Meanwhile, according to the leader, it is the social media in particular and the community in general that have called out the negative behaviors.

Cheating, bragging, and indifference are notorious in various spheres of society, according to Tien Phong. Tran Huu Son, vice chair of the Folk Art Association, notes in the paper that moral degradation is so rampant in society, from numerous corruption cases among officials to malpractices in business and education among others. It is incredible to witness traders using chemicals to turn stinking old meat into fresh one for illegal gain, regardless of consumer’s health safety, while schools – which should be venues of safety – have also seen physical abuse between teachers and students, says Son.

In an interview with Vnexpress.net, Bui Hoai Son, head of the National Institute of Culture and Arts Studies, voices concerns over numerous phenomena of cultural degradation, including students assaulting teachers, children beating up their parents, or even mothers abandoning their newborn babies. “It is more worrying that many people have turned indifferent. People do not criticize the evil, nor promote or honor the good; there are also many ready to commit evil things contradictory to the established values, and still consider such acts as normal,” Son says on the news site after giving a speech on culture at the meeting between the deputy prime minister and the ministry.

While various causes of moral corruption in society are explored, criticisms are cannoned to the culture ministry, which local media says has largely been inactive despite big problems within its jurisdiction.

“Many problems big and small alike require intervention from the culture ministry, but it has done nothing; its existence is only known to the public via controversial beauty pageants and the like,” says vov.vn, the news site of the Voice of Vietnam radio station.

Given numerous cultural incidents, the public has vented their anger, and social media has voiced their objection, but it seems the cultural sector still thinks such problems are none of its business. With many evil things or even crimes related to culture, it is the law enforcement agencies that address the consequences, while both the educational and cultural sectors act as if they were outsiders, says the news site.

In Vnexpress.net, Bui Hoai Son explores the causes behind the cultural downgrade in the country. As the country opens up its economy, “many traditional core values are challenged by new habits ushered in by a more decent lifestyle and consumerism,” Son remarks. He furthers that young people have access to more information but get lost in identifying a right cultural model and find no merits to pursue. “They look for new trends which may contradict old values,” Son says.

At his working visit to the culture ministry, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam has therefore urged the ministry and relevant agencies to kick-start a new program with specific actions to check the situation. The senior leader asked cultural leaders, when facing hot ethical or moral issues in society, to give analyses and appraisals so as to set right orientations for the public, instead of leaving the vacuum unattended to, according to Tuoi Tre. “The culture ministry must take proactive actions to build a society with high cultural standards in various aspects,” he is quoted as saying.

Vu Duc Dam said that attention must be given to even petty things related to culture, according to vov.vn. “The behaviors of queuing or giving priority to elderly people and children in public places should also be governed by specific regulations,” asserts the deputy prime minister on the news site, adding that “the culture ministry must keep a close watch on social phenomena on a weekly basis and promptly gives its standpoint.”

The topic of addressing cultural degradation is revisited as the traditional Lunar New Year is approaching, and as many negative behaviors have been reported in local media of late. This topic, in fact, has been chosen as a hot topic for discussion at the National Assembly sitting late last year.

At the NA sitting in late October, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Ngoc Thien agreed that society is in cultural crisis, according to VTC News. “Checking the cultural degradation is an issue of utmost importance to build a civilized society characterized by humanity and safety for all,” the minister reportedly said at the session.

Some NA deputies at the discussion session lamented that they wanted the economy to move forward but the cultural foundation to return to that of the old days.

Culture, says vov.vn, is ultimately the core in each human being, in each family, each community and each nation. Building a system of core values, therefore, is of paramount importance to build the people, as culture makes man. As goes an old saying: “In the days of old, man made culture; nowadays, culture makes man.

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