Matthew Dunaway November 2017 · 205-705-3590

November 2017

THE GLUE HOLDING US TOGETHER Should We Practice Traditions?

Are traditions worth keeping? When you look at the current climate, the answer seems to be no. Any practice that comes with “tradition” or “culture” is under a great deal of scrutiny. Being a traditionalist is viewed as a bad thing. But is this a fair presumption to make, especially when you consider how tradition and culture help keep our society glued together?

Dr. Helen M. Farrell, of Harvard Medical School, suggests that embracing traditions can be a “powerful grounding force” in an ever-changing world. Some traditions help us

cope with grief, like funeral traditions, after the loss of a loved one. Whatever their psychological purpose, traditions have value, and it’s unwise to disregard them. I, by no means, believe traditions should be followed without question. It is necessary and important to look at our traditions with a critical eye to acknowledge where certain traditions began and what values we exhibit by practicing them. Not all traditions come from a place of good or are worth keeping. I don’t want to live in a society where we have a tradition of marrying young girls to old men, or allowing people to be killed because of their gender or sexual orientation. By the same token, traditions and rituals are not inherently bad just because they are traditional. In 1797, our first president, George Washington, set a precedent generations of presidents would follow when he stepped down after his second term. A hero who led the country to victory in the Revolutionary War, Washington could have served as president for the rest of his life. But Washington feared this would lead to a dictatorship or monarchy, something the new country fought so hard to rid itself of.

Washington started a tradition 30 other presidents would follow, until Franklin D. Roosevelt ran for a third and fourth term in the 1940s. Acknowledging the wisdom of Washington’s two-term presidency, Congress passed the 22nd Amendment in 1947, turning tradition into law. This month, we celebrate one of the most widespread traditions in the United States: Thanksgiving. On this day, Americans across the country gather with their families to break bread and appreciate our many blessings. On Thanksgiving, we act as one through our traditions of expressing the national values of love and gratitude. These are values we could certainly stand to express more often throughout the year. Whatever your plans for Thanksgiving, I hope you are able to embrace these values with your loved ones and enjoy one of our proud cultural traditions.

Traditions form the foundation of shared experiences and build connections, which are necessary

ingredients for keeping order.

When you look back over time, you can see the development of traditions has been a contributing factor in keeping communities together. Traditions form the foundation of shared experiences and build connections, which are necessary ingredients for keeping order. As a rule, you are far less likely to do harm to the guy next to you if you have some sort of connection to that person. These traditions can also help instill values about how you should treat the people around you. The impact of traditions is obvious, but we might sometimes wonder why humans feel inclined to establish traditions at all. Psychiatrist

Happy Thanksgiving!

–Matt Dunaway

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