“Tradition is a guide, not a jailer.” – W. Somerset Maugham.
One Saturday a few weeks ago my lovely wife and I sat together to enjoy a relaxing evening of reading, reflection and one another’s company. We both enjoyed a couple drinks and I set my pipe aglow to revel in the taste of good tobacco and whiskey while she read beside me. We held hands. We smiled. We chuckled together at little things and it was a wonderful evening that ended with warm and loving affection and a restful night’s sleep. It was in every way a welcome reprieve to the endless hustle we live throughout the week. As we sat there enjoying the evening I couldn’t help but smile to myself….realizing in the moment how many traditions we have already set in place for ourselves and our future family.
This of course got me thinking about that word….tradition, as well as what it represents. You see Jess and I are kindred spirits in that we are admirers of the older ways and students of the past. Practices and secrets, little tricks and habits handed down through generations intrigue us both not only for what they are, but for why they are. In a world where the only thing people pay attention to is the new, it is easy to get so caught up we forget about the old. As the saying goes, “those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it.”
Unfortunately the modern man or woman has little time to engage in archaic rituals and ancient traditions seemingly irrelevant to their lives. The world has changed. Technology has moved forward to replace the roles of men and women in many aspects of society. Gender roles are being entirely turned on their heads. Children are being thoroughly confused in an ego-fueled attempt at social justice. History is being unwritten, devalued, demonized, and forgotten with masses endlessly crying for all to ‘get with the times’ and accept the new and insensible lest be labeled bigots, racists, sexists and all manner of other things.
The traditions of the past are being erased and trampled on as old ideas emerge with new names and forgotten failed experiments of history are flaunted as the answer to the new societal woes. Yet we still have two eyes, two ears, two hands. We still look to the sky in wonder, no less amazed by the galaxies we see than our ancestors were, despite knowing infinitely more than they. We shiver in the cold. We sweat in the heat. We love and cry and laugh and yell and dance. Here we stand on two feet; an ancient design from millennia ago amongst the steel towers and horses of today….it is truly a different world we live in……but are we so different?
Deep down a man is a man, a woman is a woman born today or a thousand years ago. We are in every way save for the circumstances of our birth, the same as our ancestors. Mortal. Curious. Intelligent with a knack for thinking a bit more highly of ourselves than we ought to. This is the nature of humanity, it is who we are.
We have changed so little….perhaps then we should not be so eager to abandon the traditions we know. After all, they were likely established for good reason, whether you can see it…..
What do you think?