Abigail Ruhman is a freshman journalism major at MU. She is an opinion columnist who writes about student life, politics and social issues for The Maneater.
It’s always been this way. That’s the sentence that stops people from accepting change. Traditions can be strong, but sometimes they can outlive their worth. When people choose to value tradition over all else, they can get stuck in a cycle that isn’t healthy or beneficial to them. Taking a step back and evaluating what traditions you want to participate in based on personal values, beliefs and ability can make you more confident in your beliefs.
The issue with just going along with traditions is that sometimes you end up putting yourself in a situation that you don’t want to be in. One of the most prominent examples of this surrounds the holidays. From Thanksgiving to Easter, society tends to associate certain holidays with family. While this may appear harmless, those who have had toxic family situations can feel compelled to re-enter that toxic environment for the sake of that tradition.
Oxford English Dictionary defines tradition as “the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation.” The power behind traditions comes from how they started and how long they’ve existed. Traditions aren’t inherently evil, but allowing certain ones to continue when they conflict with other values is problematic.
A very American example would be the tradition of going all out for a football game. There’s a reason the Super Bowl is successful, and that’s because the NFL has made it an event.
This year there was a bit of drama surrounding the halftime show.
After kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality in 2016, Colin Kaepernick has experienced some conflict with the NFL. This year’s Super Bowl prep involved Cardi B backing out of the halftime performance to stand behind Kaepernick. Travis Scott, who ended up performing, claims that he discussed his performance with Kaepernick, but Kaepernick says that this isn’t true.
By performing at the Super Bowl while claiming to be in Kaepernick’s corner, Scott’s actions do not match the values that he claims to have. His move to falsify approval from Kaepernick shows that Scott understands how performing for the Super Bowl halftime show ends up showing support for the NFL. It seems as though Scott is placing the monetary value of being a part of the Super Bowl tradition over the beliefs that he holds.
Picking and choosing when you want to follow your beliefs shows a weakness in your belief system. Continuing traditions that violate your beliefs is a dangerous game. Traditions are dangerous because it’s easy to blindly follow them.
Personally, I disagree with a lot of the beliefs of my parents’ church, but it was a tradition to get up on Sunday to go to church and then grab lunch. Sundays were for autopilot. When I started to pay attention to the message the church was trying to spread, I realized I didn’t believe in it at all. I was there because it was Sunday and I knew I would at least get lunch out of it. The promise of family time and lunch was enough for me to ignore the message the church was speaking into the world.
Telling my parents that I didn’t want to participate in our Sunday tradition wasn’t easy, but standing by my beliefs was necessary. I couldn’t stand to participate in something that went against my core values. While my parents weren’t thrilled, they were at least glad that I stood up for what I believed in.
Traditions can be fun, but the question is: Do you know what you’re participating in? Blindly following traditions can lead to you supporting something you don’t truly believe in. From going to church for the lunch to performing at the Super Bowl, traditions can be dangerous to participate in if you don’t keep up with the beliefs that the tradition represents.