Author- William Baumgarth
Fairly often, I hear some of my peers talk about how they’re not traditional. They say that tradition is old school and that tradition plagues the human race. They complain that we shouldn’t do things just because our parents or grandparents did. Tradition is supposed to chain you down and keep you unhappy according to them.
However, I’m here to make the case that tradition is very important to live a good life. Tradition is the ultimate form of democracy. Tradition is when your ancestors agreed upon a certain way to do things. This way of doing things was passed down from generation to generation, but why? Your ancestors decided that a certain way of living or doing something was superior and made them happier as opposed to other methods of doing things or living life. They thought that by passing down the tradition, that they would be helping their offspring in the same way that they were helped.
Tradition was never intended to chain people down, despite what people today may think. It was simply intended to make your life easier, and more meaningful. For instance, the tradition of being married and having a child is very important. This is not to insult my friends who grew up with single parents or separated parents, but growing up in single parent households is significantly harder. For instance, 70% of youths in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes – 9 times the average. (U.S. Dept. of Justice, Sept. 1988).* And while I fully understand that single mothers are doing their best, it is important to note that a father eases the physical and mental burden of having children.
Another set of traditions that the majority of us follow, whether we are aware of it or not, is celebrating holidays. I understand that some people do not wish to celebrate holidays, but I think they are depriving themselves of a great joy. Holidays give us something to look forward to, holidays are times when we focus on the people in our lives that matter, our friends and family. It is no doubt a tradition to sit and converse with your family on Thanksgiving, or open your presents on Christmas. These events were some of the most magical experiences I had as a child. I find it important that my kids experience these things as well.
Finally, I will talk about the most controversial tradition, religion. People believe that others brainwash their children with religion. But think about it from this prospective, these people who “brainwash” their children, believe that God exists. A lot of religious folks believe in an afterlife as well, and they believe that the only way to achieve the afterlife is to worship God. It only makes sense that they would want their children to achieve an afterlife as well. People generally want what is best for their children, and if a person believes in God, they will want their children to believe in God. I am personally Orthodox Christian and intend to raise my children as Orthodox Christians.
Even traditions as simple as how you eat and prepare your food are important. Jewish people eat Kosher. It provides them with a unique identity, and thus gives them more of a sense of community.
If all tradition is, is “brainwashing” kids, then why teach our kids anything at all? From a non-traditionalist stand point, our kids should live their lives as experiments. Trying things that won’t work, and letting them decide themselves whether things are bad or good. Is telling your kid that stealing is bad “brainwashing” as well? Shall we let every individual come up with their own definition of right and wrong and give them no guidance from the time they are born?
Tradition surrounds us. It is the thread that keeps our society together. Those who detest “tradition,” do not realize that many of the things that they already do are in accordance to tradition. For instance, wearing pants, or brushing their teeth. Tradition is simply the way people agreed to do things.