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A rant on tradition.

Rualani

You Silly Willy
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It is rare that I attempt to share such overreaching perspectives, so frail and weak are they. I wish to attempt to attach words to try and give them life as a seed that takes root in the soil. It is my own perspective, so much objectivity is going to be lost, but this rant is made with minimal reference to the external... so here we go.

What is tradition?

In cultures traditions initially form in order to solve problems related to the environment. I imagine that they are carved out painstakingly slow like a creature evolving. As an organism can be changed throughout many generations, traditions can be changed similarly. This slow change roots tradition as rigidly as a genetic blueprint. In this way traditions are as unseeing in how they develop as the blind watchmaker is in shaping life.

A problem.

But, what happens when this animal is thrown into a new environment? It's blueprint is not equipped for such change. A beetle that camouflages itself as a leaf will have little advantage in the sand. Such is the way of traditions. Humans alter the environment throughout time to varying degrees. Sometimes the degree of change is so far accelerated as to outpace the natural flow of tradition. Attempts are made to remake them anew taking bits and pieces from the past, yet so careful was the past carved out by trial and error, that it can never be fully assimilated.

Tradition is a fallacy, right?
Being carved steadily through generations, tradition doesn't necessarily adapt as a form of argument, but rather as a rigorous conclusion of trial and error in the environment. Seeing the path that tradition was carved from is vital in order to properly criticize it. New environmental demands may not be met by a tradition leading some to turn away and pursue new alternatives. This in itself, is the flow of the development of new possible traditions. Newly trampled paths in the jungle forge ahead seeking a solution to the challenges of the environment.

The pace is too fast for the word to hold meaning.
In our current society, trade and business can rapidly accelerate and alter the way people interact with each other. The tools used to solve problems shift faster and faster. Does this mean that traditions merely have a shorter life. Has the game merely sped up, or has tradition changed so fundamentally as to lose it's meaning.

Why?
I feel like acceptance and life and tradition were related in some odd association in my brain... No particular reason.

Screw it, bring on the change. I want my virtual reality.:D
 

Rook

clawing through paradise
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I am not one who clings to external traditions, rather adhering to my own habitual eccentricities.

However, tradition has many faces and some of them are beneficial to communities and entire cultures.

(I address here traditions within a sociological setting, as they seem to be the ones with larger benefits vs. those of lesser scope)



I grew up in a rural setting within a christian protestant community..

A yearly tradition was the bazaar, where churches held a festival/market/banquet/carnival.

Farmers donate livestock and produce, food is freely prepared and sold and a whole range of measures are employed to generate revenue for the church (Auctions{including moonshine bids}, tombola, face painting, etcetera etcetera.)

The church spent money on their planned budget, yet profit margins remained large due to greatly lessened expenditure.

The congregation, the town and any travelers passing by socialized and had a fattening meal.
Community interaction was strengthened.
The church then got a new roof or building, charitable deeds where done and so forth.


I am not religious, but the communal benefits of such a system are obvious even through a secular implementation(if the profits are effectively employed)

These days, very few towns hold bazaars and their general hype are significantly lessened, restricted mainly to quiet rural towns (The construction of highway systems curbed the influx of travelers)

This is by no means an universal example, I simply wish to illustrate how some traditions that are slowly fading away to modernity (even if they operate via quite conservative systems) have tangible communal benefits.


{I may not have factored in the OP but my rant is a rant}
 

Intolerable

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To me it boils down to predictability. Customs force a certain litmus test on people whereby those customs can be injected and then read at face value. This is incredibly important. Aside from language which should be obvious there is behavior as well.

The vast majority of us for example work 9-5. The obvious benefit here is the agreed solution to working and finding services in this time frame. If we didn't have an agreement to provide services in a given time it would be harder to find and so would work. Stores would be open at odd hours. Sometimes until 9PM, sometimes until 2PM if a slow day or nobody showed up. I could go on here but no point.

This goes into everything. Academics, families, parenting, etc. We have to have customs so that by the time we're through injecting customs into the minds of children they are functional in the society they were born into. Not injecting those customs in their minds as children is a disservice to them and society.
 

Teax

huh?
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Traditions to a culture are like memories to an individual.

To pick up on your animal analogy:
In a cold country, a mouse might seek out the sun to get warm. However, it would be infeasible for the mouse's survival to waste so much time to re-discover that sunny places are warm every time the mouse feels cold, that's what memories are for. Thrown into a tropical environment, the same mouse will quickly learn to avoid the sun from now on, and remember the new decision. Central point: optimization.

Cultures made of millions of individuals are like one big organism with traditions that guide its behavior like memories guide that mouse. Traditions are important. It is also important to keep in mind that just like memories, traditions are not final. Smart organisms change their minds.
 

Sinny91

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I have a love/hate relationship with tradition...

In being raised by Roman Catholics I'm familiar with most of the pro's and con's... I've a feeling that I'll ponder both for years to come.
 

Sly-fy

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If there was an absolute lack of adherence to any tradition whatsoever, then everyone`s behavior would be unconventional and unpredictable, and there would be no culture, thus there could be no society...

Now having said that I think that I`m somewhat of an unconventional individual who doesn`t focus his whole life around tradition. Too much of anything can`t ever be a good thing IMO, but there are upsides for things as well as downsides, and that goes for tradition as well.
 

Thurlor

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I think tradition is quite adequate as a guide but blind adherence to it more often than not leads to negative outcomes.

Tradition for tradition's sake is one of my pet hates.

The abandonment of tradition in favour of new methods should seriously be considered when you can't explain why a tradition is better or you are presented with a new (non-traditional) method that is better.
 

JimJambones

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One should never shy away from curiosity or innovation, even if it ends up overturning or modifying traditions. Progress>Tradition.
 

Tannhauser

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In some sense, rejecting tradition altogether will leave us at square 1 for each generation. Take science, for example. That is a tradition. Every scientist says: I came up with such and such theory, now it's your turn to try reject my theory and potentially come up with a better one. If we don't have that tradition, every new generation starts in the stone age.
 
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rook and teax have mostly already said what i wanted to say
tradition doesn't have to be static, 'good' tradition is one that creates a unifying theme, so to speak, but allows for degree of autonomy for individuals to express themselves as individuals and form their own identities and so reinterpret traditions as is necessary

in your worry about individuals from one community with a certain tradition having trouble fitting in other niches, you are also undermining tradition's role in creating communities to begin with.
shared values make a community, and shared values are basically "tradition"...tradition is relayed knowledge really, so values relayed could also be oppressive or out of touch with current times(as in...useless) and i agree with you on the disintegration point bc traditions exist alongside ideologies of sorts, so if two communities with different traditions live next to each other, they would probably worry about eachother's overarching influence on either community's identity and values, and perceive each other as threats

but i still think the sense of community and belonging that traditions create is invaluable. imo people form identities by making distinctions between themselves and others...in other words: identity is relative and is fleshed out through the act of observing others, and tradition facilitates that bc it brings people together

also oral tradition is important...especially for preserving language and cultural heritage. its easy for oral traditions and therefore languages to die in the modern world as a consequence of mass-migrations bc language is becoming increasingly more isolated from tradition and cultural value(stuff like chants, rhymes, riddles, figures of speech, myths, poems etc). so loss of value means not much importance will be put into passing down the mother tongue and it is only a matter of few generations before the language is lost...
(my mother tongue has been lost for two generations now in both maternal and paternal sides of the family bc they are out of touch with Adyghe communities :-( )
 
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