Social Question

YoBob's avatar

How important is tradition in maintaining the social fabric of civilization?

Asked by YoBob (12823points) April 21st, 2011

As for me, I believe that an understanding our past gives us wisdom with which to address the future. Further, humans are social creatures that have evolved from a tribal past and tradition gives us a connection to our cultural heritage that I believe is important to the human psyche.

What about y’all?

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14 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

Tradition is important, but it is important to understand that tradition should be flexible. When it is not, it starts losing its meaning or worse, is unhelpful.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

In general, I like traditions. When they become no longer valid or useful, or when they are used as an excuse for poor behavior, then it is time that they be retired.

nikipedia's avatar

I know this is an unpopular opinion, but I place little to no value in culture or tradition. Celebrating a cultural heritage strengthens bonds within each group, but that strengthens them against people outside of it.

And I think past wisdom can be useful, but not nearly as useful as being willing to investigate why it works and adapt it based on newly acquired knowledge. Using tradition and culture as explanatory tools (why does the sun rise; what happens when we die) is not very effective at all, but the persistence of traditional explanations can impede real progress.

zenvelo's avatar

Some cultural traditions are important (Thanksgiving in the United States comes to mind), some are harmful (Confederate Day, honoring traitors to the Union).

It was an incredible realization though, that family traditions are easy to create and maintain, and act to bring cohesion to a family. A family only has to do something two years in a row and it becomes “tradition”, whether it is setting up a Christmas tree in the same place, or “we always use little white twinkle lights” or having a special side dish at a special dinner.

JLeslie's avatar

There is a Confederate day?

I like traditions, because I feel it can provide reasons for families to get together, and can produce memories that bring us happiness. However, when it becomes an obligation that people go to ridiculous lengths or through tons of gult, I find it awful. I like having traditions that make sense for the particular person or family, and not that fit into some sort of calendar that other people made up long ago, or Hallmark, where it wastes unnecessary money because airfare or restaurant prices are jacked up, or causes stress levels to be high.

Earthgirl's avatar

I agree with a lot of what niikedia has said. I love cultural and folk traditions and even religious ones, and of course family traditions too. The repetition of observing the tradition makes it a rich historical connection to our past. But we need to realize that some of these traditions have their roots in negative things. Prejudices and tribalism which are destructive and need to be evolved beyond. If we can keep the surface tradition of dance, food, folk culture etc and lose the negative aspects that would be best.

marinelife's avatar

It is definitely a component of uniting us. Say, fourth of July traditions.

JLeslie's avatar

@optimisticpessimist Well, that is just one idiot governor, I don’t consider it to be accepted as confederate history month like black history month. Unbelievable. I try to tell the people around me there is no problem being proud to be a southerner, but being proud of being a confederate and waving that flag around is a totally different thing.

mattbrowne's avatar

Important for our social bonding. But traditions can evolve.

everephebe's avatar

I don’t know about the maintaining the social fabric of civilization aspect, but some traditions can be fun.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Tradition is something that is integral for holding a culture/society together. The real question then becomes whether or not the culture itself is worth continuing via the tradition, in terms of whatever metric you think makes a culture healthy or not.

faye's avatar

I agree with the good and bad of traditions and mostly I like ours. But each time there’s a change in family,divorce or death, the no longer or changed tradition rips at the wound again. And as a mom who is not traditional, I’m sick of doing some of them! I tried to change xmas dinner menu years ago, not appreciated.
So I think that traditions shouldn’t be so traditional- change it up! What would happen if there was a palm tree at xmas?? like on an island without snow?

ddude1116's avatar

Traditions are only important if they keep with the times. A lot of times traditions are made in commemoration of something, but then its meaning is lost. People just stop respecting them, and those sort of traditions are pointless, but if they become universal enough, they take on a whole new level of meaning by bringing people together. Christmas is a traditional holiday, but it has become colloquial enough that love of the season is more relevant to it than the Birth Of Christ on the large scale of things. I don’t heed much into religion anymore, but I absolutely love Christmas because it’s such a loving and joyous time. Those sort of traditions make people happy, and that’s essential to maintaining society. So as long as we aren’t so dead set on maintaining complete tradition, they are helpful and necessary, otherwise they’re a hindrance.

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