Monday, April 05, 2010

Traditional By Choice

I have often thought that would make a great bumper-sticker. In fact, if I ever launch my long-imagined aphorism business, that is what I would call it.

I am the product of the free-est to choose nation, generation, class, race, and sex that has ever existed. What I choose is mostly traditional, because I have come to see the wisdom of the traditions and the communities that live them.

Too much choice can be debilitating. If you try to live by keeping all your choices open, you can never actually live. And people who choose to live according to structured traditions in mutually accountable communities are the happiest.


Martin Cothran said...


But wasn't it an inherent part of traditional cultures that you didn't have a choice about your cultural circumstances? If you were the son of a shoemaker, then you became a shoemaker? And you married someone only of your social station, etc.?

Today the fact of your father being a latte-sipping intellectual has little bearing on what his son may become, and he may marry a bear-drinking plebe without any social consequences.

Isn't this like say that you are a Calvinist by choice?

Gruntled said...

You make my point exactly. Faced with the choice to live like permanent choosers, or to choose to live a traditional life, I have chosen a traditional life. Including choosing to be a Calvinist.

I also think that we exaggerate how little choice there was in premodern societies. The range of choices was limited, but a significant hunk of individuals did, in fact, live differently than their parents did.

(I know my future daughter-in-law is likely to be tough, but I have not expected her to be bear-drinking :-) )

randy said...

they say '06 was a wonderful year for alaskan grizzly...

i have heard that it's the amiish communities w/the strictest 'ordnung' (unwritten rule) which retain the most members. the more laissez-faire amish tend to have more of a problem with attrition.

maybe it's just that strict rules of conduct keep folks occupied.

Black Sea said...

Tradition: collective wisdom over time.

I wouldn't say that tradition is always right, but if it's usually wrong, it tends to get dropped from the collective wisdom.

Diane M said...

Despite all the choices, most people in our society choose marriage and a family. It's what most of us want.

Anonymous said...

I think that people like me who dont want to get married should have a choice to live life my way. I like the choice to live like 50 cent if i want to and have the cash. I dislike the idea of tradition being a norm and risking being ostrasiced for not conforming.

Gruntled said...

Anonymous: you do have the choice not to marry. You are at little risk of being ostracized for it. Norms are norms whether we like it or not. I think traditional ways of living are norms (thought by most people to be worth choosing) and normal (actually chosen by most people) because they work better for most people.

I am puzzled by your choice of Curtis Jackson (50 Cent) as a role model, since he does not live with his son or his son's mother, as well as his many bad actions as citizen and artistic colleague.

Anonymous said...

Dont actually mean like the bad part part of his life( getting shot 9 time cant be fun) I just love In Da Club. A more accurate one would be live like Flo Rida.