Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Traditional Values Hamper Progress

I like tradition. At least I like certain types of tradition. I like family traditions, such as reunions or holiday dinners or returning year after year to a favorite vacation spot. I also like annual traditions put on by towns and communities such as festivals, parades, and Christmas light displays. These types of traditions bring people together in a positive manner to commemorate something that can be shared in good cheer.

But despite the fact that I just entered my seventh decade of life, I am not a big fan of doing things a certain way just because it's traditional. I am not a traditionalist. For example, I am just as much in favor of traditional marriage as any Republican. But I am not about to say that traditional marriage is the only legitimate type of marriage there can be. Why should we legislate tradition?

People use the excuse of tradition far too often to justify doing things or not doing things based upon the way we have always behaved. I don't like doing things simply for the sake of tradition. I don't like doing or not doing things just because it is biblical or because it complies with someone else's idea of what is moral. I love it when people find new ways to do old things. That doesn't always mean that I do the same thing a new way myself: Sometimes I do; sometimes I don't. But I support everyone's choice to behave in a new manner if they wish.

I support gay marriage. I support abortion rights. I support texting over calling if that's your preference. I support email over snail mail. And I support doing everything by computer instead of by paper. I was paying all my bills online even before the Internet became a thing. And I hope I never get to be one of those old fogies who lambast new-fangled ideas or paradigms in favor of traditional motifs. I don't like that kind of person and I'm getting to the age when that type of mindset begins to set in.

Taking a look at the makeup of the Republican caucus in Congress, they all kind of look like me. They are mostly older, gray-haired, white, and male. They also like holding on to traditional values, which is fine except that they let those values inform their policy-making decisions. Traditional values don't often work in a modern, pluralistic society. My mug might fit right in there with the rest of those old bastards in Congress. But my mindset is far younger and more progressive. And I wear that distinction with great pride.

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