Monday 16 May 2016

Tradition, Why Do Conservatives Believe in Tradition?

Why do Conservatives believe in Tradition?

Aren't Traditions old and out of date? Aren't they just hangovers from a past age best forgotten?

Tradition exists so that you and I do not have to constantly remake the wheel. Instead of only learning from our own mistakes we can learn from the mistakes of the past. Hopefully avoiding them. One of the great misunderstandings regarding Tradition is that it involves everything that is old, but that simply isn't true.

Consider this definition from Wikipedia:

"A tradition is a belief or behaviour passed down within a group or society with symbolic meaning or special significance with origins in the past"

I quite like this definition because it brings out an important point, it is not simply something old that is a tradition, but something with "symbolic meaning or special significance". This is important because it is not the entire past that Traditionalists wish to preserve. When you think about trying to preserve everything in the past you soon realise how impossible such a thing would be. How do you conserve both Pagan and Christian tradition, all of it?

Obviously you cannot so you must either reject both or accept those things that have symbolic meaning or special significance. Our society has done the later, we have Traditions that originate in Pagan times and others that originate in Christian times. Over time Traditions change, new Traditions arise and old ones die off.

So if we accept that over time Traditions can and do change, why is Tradition important?

Why keep Traditions if they change?

Because they have meaning, they connect us to the past, to the people of the past, to their deeds and their thoughts. Tradition reminds us that we are not alone, that others have been here before and struggled and survived. That things that are past are not forgotten. But Tradition also has another extremely important task, it connects the past, the present and the future. Because at the heart of the idea of Tradition is the belief that the future will exist. In fact without the future there is no point in having Traditions. Traditions are not simply about remembering the past they are about celebrating the future. The fact that there will be a future.

A future for a group, because Traditions exist for different groups of people. Different religions have their own Traditions. Different nations and societies have their own Traditions and that is as it should be. Because a made up Tradition, an artificial Tradition has no meaning or significance. It is only when something from the past has meaning or significance that it is really a Tradition. Conservatives believe in the organic, in things that naturally occur, not in the artificial, in the made up and invented. A universal Tradition is fake, worse than that a universal Tradition means real Tradition, things that have real meaning have been sacrificed to make way for the fake. There are enough things in life that have no meaning, that are simplyly done because they must be. Tradition is a reminder that things greater than ourselves exist and that we are part of something greater, that we are not alone.

Why do Conservatives believe in Tradition?

Because it is important to remember the past, to respect it, to learn from it. It is important that life have meaning, that special things should be celebrated or commemorated. That our nation, our society should be distinct from others, not isolated or distant but distinct. Just as we want others to have their own distinctions. That we reconcile the past, the present and the future. That we have a future. Tradition does all these things and nothing else can. That is why we believe in Tradition.

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