Every country, city, and community within a city or village has its customs. Many transcend time and natural boundaries to become accepted norms. Some are unique, standing tall, identifying those holding them true as members of a particular tribe. Each generation contributes to the ever changing mix of traditions. The dance of what to keep, to toss, or perhaps substantially change is repeated again and again.
I can remember the struggle. Language, clothes, relationships were all up for debate in the decade of my generation. You can see a variation of the theme going on with the emerging adults of today. Just as we asked the question then, there are those today who wonder if there is anything worth keeping. Do we need a totally different script? Can we tackle the problems and opportunities of today using yesterday’s approach? Will we ever address the injustice, exploitation, and pain rampant in all parts of our society?
Each generation knows there is an ideal answer but…and it is in the “but” where one finds the heart of the doubt haunting those looking for results…is there really anything worth keeping?
There is precedence as well as hope in the journeys of those traveling before us. First, there are fundamental traditions which help society function in a positive way. As an example, even Jesus’ followers, radical as they were, when “they took Jesus' body and, following the Jewish burial custom, wrapped it in linen with the spices.” (John 19.40)
Second, there are evolving models which can be expanded, amplified, and enhanced. The gifts of honor and respect, to those before as well as those who followed, are gifts from my parent’s generation. The gift of being willing to “change” is something I hope I can pass on to those who follow.
Traditions can be wonderful. In keeping the best, building on what works, and discovering what can be done one finds real hope and compassion. The question is always one of balance and discovery. We must know what we have been given and, with this foundation, reach for the future.
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