Above the waterline are aspects of a culture that are explicit, visible, and easily taught. The surface culture is where behaviors, customs and courtesies, and traditions are more easily seen. For the military culture this area includes things such as: the uniform and rank, the salute, the playing of the national anthem before commanders calls and movies, the POWs ceremony, the honoring of heroes, and the change-of-command ceremony.
At the water line is a transition zone where the observer has to be more alert in the area where implicit understanding becomes talked about and where ethos is codified and decreed. At this level of military culture are found the service creed, the core values, and the oath of office.
Some of what identifies service members and veterans as belonging to the military culture are not readily apparent and exist below the waterline. Below the surface is the hidden culture—the more enduring and powerful characteristics of military culture: the beliefs, habits, values, assumptions, understandings, and judgments that affect the culture’s worldview. These intangible values and guiding ideals that are mostly acquired while in uniform and are often kept for life are referred to as the Military or Warrior Ethos. These are often things a member knows but cannot easily articulate. The hidden aspects of a culture are not taught directly.
1.3.2 Iceberg Assignment
Using the example of the iceberg of military culture, design your own iceberg for a culture of your choice. Be aware that it doesn’t have to be an international culture; you can pick a subculture or a minority culture within the U.S. or within the country/nation you are most familiar with.
This may not be that easy to do. You will have to take a step back and think critically about things you never think about, because you are living them everyday; they’re your second nature. Culture often feels like nature (to borrow the words of Guy Deutscher): it feels like common sense, and we usually only become aware of it when we experience a culture shock, i.e., when we encounter people who don’t act, or think, or believe, the same way that we do. Usually, our response to such encounters (especially when they happen within our own culture) is that of irritation or surprise. We get frustrated with people. (Who on earth takes off their shoes before walking inside my home? Socks and bare feet are disgusting! . . . Who says “over yonder”? What does that even mean? . . . Why is this guy avoiding my gaze? That’s kind of shady.”) The root of such irritation or flabbergasted-ness is often to be found below the waterline, in the invisible culture.
You need to be very familiar with the culture you design an iceberg for, so pick a culture you are part of or intimately familiar with for this assignment.