It still matters
“Tradition does not mean a dead town; it does not mean that the living are dead but that the dead are alive. It means that it still matters what Penn did two hundred years ago or what Franklin did a hundred years ago…” — G. K. Chesterton
Tevye isn’t the only one who prizes tradition. I count among my friends and relatives many who are loyal to tradition in various aspects of life, and I am certainly into tradition in many ways (you don’t want to get me started talking about Christmas traditions here).
However, like Tevye, many of us who prize tradition have been taking some hard knocks lately. The world is changing at a head-spinning rate, and while change is not necessarily bad, it isn’t necessarily good, either. Much that seems eternally valuable to us appears to be increasingly disregarded, sometimes without adequate thought or reasoning. Many of us may find ourselves in the position of Tevye, carefully debating when and where to draw the line between welcoming the new and standing our ground on matters of principle, faith or personal ethics.
Regardless of where one stands on controversial issues, perhaps we all could start by agreeing that history does matter; that we need to understand how we got to the place we are now, in order to see the way forward. It bothers me to hear people talk as if history is meaningless. History is a rich, largely undiscovered gold mine of wisdom that, though it is often interpreted in conflicting ways, can tell us much about who we are, what to embrace, and what to avoid.
I hope that you’ll spend some time, today or someday soon, to discover a bit more about the history and traditions of your state, your town or your family. Like it or not, we all continue to live with the influence of what has happened long before we got here, and we would do well to know it better. Happy time traveling!