Do we need tradition, or is it an obstacle to our freedom?

Transposed here from Quora

Good question.

Yes, and yes. We do need tradition and it is an obstacle to our freedom. Revolutions are fought by taking sides on this very question! Think of your country’s tradition and where you stand on that, think of your family’s tradition and what you did with that. What groups do you belong to? Consider your group’s tradition: do you believe in that?

I was born, as the first child, into a very strong Protestant Christian family with both parents committed believers in God, the Bible, the church and in practising their faith every day. They were loving, intelligent people, both believing they had found their right path. And they held to that to the end. They were good parents. But I’m not a Christian!

I’m an Australian, so my dominant cultural ‘take’ on life is the Aussie version of the British culture, with British humour being the best part of all of that, mate! The Australian flavour is sport, treated as if it were a religion, which I don’t follow, sorry if that makes me not an Aussie. Growing up in the forties and fifties, my Australia was running smoothly: it was solid, stable, sunny and good for everyone (I thought) and our conservative government ruled for twenty-three years straight. Yes, there was a war somewhere over in Korea, but, not to worry. All of that was set to change, and keep on changing!! The current Aussie flavour is new legislation which allows for the criminalisation of criticism of the government.

Here’s another tradition: me, my life. I have memories of a life I call mine, with adventures and failures, starring wonderful and terrible events – just like yoursbut different. I have memories of others, like my parents, my brother, my sister, my first wife, first girlfriend, thirty years of school teaching, my five children, my second wife, and thousands upon thousands of happenings, not to mention what I had for breakfast this morning! That’s tradition! That’s my past – that’s my Forrest Gump movie! Do I need to keep all that in my memory? Maintain my personal tradition? Or is that an obstacle to my freedom?

Okay. Is there an answer? I’m firmly on the side of letting go of any and all traditions that show up to me as an obstacle to my freedom. Absolutely. I let go of my parents religion, after 21 years of that; I became a Catholic and let that go of that also, after 18 years. There is a “mini tradition” – common sense, which I do respect, but what I believed yesterday is not sacrosanct. My eyes are open and my mind is, even more.

But! You have to traverse the ground of tradition(s) carefully, watching out for land mines that may be buried in hallowed ground. And the past does not actually exist, and need not be recreated over and over again in the present. I’m 79 next January, and feel like a teenager. What will I learn today!?

All the best! 🙂