Saturday, November 19, 2011

It’s Tradition to be Traditional

With Thanksgiving coming close it brought my mind once again to the subject of traditions. I love traditions, those acts that seem to happen on a regular basis or with special ceremonies, and I have many that I hold dear to my heart such as our annual December First Party. Traditions help us remember key moments in our past that have helped shape us and point our children to a promised future. However, more than the small rituals we practice, I thought of the mindset we have as a people. Let’s face it; it’s tradition to be traditional. Traditional marriage. Traditional family. Traditional worship. Traditional Frosted Flakes. Personally, my favorite is traditional coffee, because I want mine to taste like real coffee and not vanilla ice cream. Still, the mindset of the traditional can kill; kill spirits, kill relationships, and kill growth.

“It’s just not normal!” That’s the catch phrase that says, “You’re not living your life the traditional way, and the way that everyone else thinks you should be living it.” Normal. It truly is the one word I despise the most. It’s a trap; a box manufactured by people who live in fear. It’s the shield of the intolerant and the motivation of hate crimes. Traditional people will fight for Freedom of Speech, the Pursuit of Happiness and the Freedom of Expression of Worship, but don’t say what they don’t want to hear, your happiness better be produced by what makes them happy and you better worship their God. “What you do behind closed doors is your business, but don’t bring it out into the open where we have to see it.” And so those who are not traditional stay closeted up because of fear. Yet, even then they’re not safe, because the Traditional will not rest until they’ve scripted out what happens behind those closed doors. So, people live in fear of being who they are.

 And they have good reason. When I was in high school our city wasn’t as big as it is today. Out by the interstate there was a gay bar called Saturdays and next to it they built a strip club. There were many stories of some drunk rednecks who would constantly try to beat some gay man straight. “Of course we did it. He’s not normal.” What they were saying was, “He’s not like us.” And that scared them. They reacted the only way they could – with violence.

From our earliest childhood we are taught to be like everyone else, to dress like them, listen to the same music as them, and like the same movies and television shows. School uniforms are an attempt to make everyone normal for a few hours to concentrate on their text books. Why? Because it’s easier than teaching them that diversity is normal, that they don’t need to be afraid of people who are not like them. Of course, to be honest, there isn’t anyone in the previous generation that can teach them that because their parents live in the same fear.

“Homosexuality destroys the traditional marriage.” It’s the people inside a traditional marriage that destroys traditional marriage. If you believe that two men holding hands on the subway is hurting your marriage then either you don’t believe in the strength of your marriage or your husband is one of those two men. Two girls kissing do not destroy the family. All these things do is assist in breaking us away from the traditional and show that people are not living in fear any longer. In an ideal world, people would not have to live in secret. Acceptance of who they are would be worldwide and fear of the repercussions of their way of life would be non-existent. Sadly, however, we live in a world of judgmental people who think they have the right to live everyone else’s life.

Women who choose to have a child without getting married are frowned upon. However, the truth is many single professional women are choosing to have children without the hassle of cleaning up after Daddy. Furthermore, with divorce statistics what they are single parents are not only doing it, but doing it successfully. There are arguments out there that a homosexual couple cannot raise a child, because, well there are hundreds of false reasons, but the truth is I know several Traditional couples who truly suck at child rearing. Your lifestyle choice doesn’t make you a better or worse parent. It’s your character that does that. “It takes a village to raise a child,” but the Traditional want to choose who resides in that village.

Men who don’t wish to be in a “normal” relationship are seen as players. A younger woman married to an older man is a gold digger while he is seen as a dirty old man afraid to act his age. Older women are cougars preying on the vitality of the young. Anything that is not traditional is not normal and the people who risk breaking the bonds of the closed-minded are made to feel as if they’ve committed a crime against all humanity.

Steve Taylor, a Christian musician from the early ‘80s, wrote a tongue in cheek song called I Want to be a Clone. In the song, he talked about how everyone wanted you to be just like them; do things the way they did things. One of the lines reads, “’Cause if you want to be one of his, got to act like one of us.” While he was ridiculing the church, his concept reaches far beyond. Every religion holds this ancient mindset as well as each generation and culture. “Be like us and you’re normal.”

The funny thing is that each group has their traditional line as to what is acceptable. It is definitely that way in many of our religions, which is why there are so many denominations and even viewpoints within the same sect. “Women can only wear dresses.” Then another group will move the line and say, “No, they can wear pants, but not shorts.” The line in another group is “Shorts are okay, but two-piece bathing suits are of the devil.” And each group judges another as a lost generation who surrendered to the pressure of an immoral society. However, the truth is that these people have opened their eyes as well as their minds.

Traditions are good. They help us build solidarity in our lives and remember where we came from. However, they can also be used to keep us from being who we are. The truth of the matter is I don’t want to be like you; I want to be like me, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Clonliness is not next to godliness.

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