Value and tradition
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01-06-2011, 05:25 AM
Value and tradition
I've always hated far-right bigotry but I could never formulate a clear argument. I think I came up with something :

"A country upholds values and traditions. The former are almost universal to all human beings in respect to one another and should be defended by force. The latter is a series of customs that are not universal and do not have the best interest of all humans in mind. In a world of diversity and international communication and travel they are put to the test and defending them by force only shows how useless they are"

Now what do I mean by this ?
Well , I think we have values and traditions. Values are universal : human rights , equal opportunity , mercy etc.
Then we have traditions that are specific to various regions/cultures : eat this or don't eat that , celebrate this , use this clothing etc.
Values should be defend by force as they ensure the good of all.
The problem comes when force is used to defend traditions. It only benefits a small group to the detriment of others. I see this with nationalism which I find irrelevant in this day and age. Borders have been broken by technology with communication and travel - it's foolish to deny this. And the desperation to close borders is akin to putting ones fingers in ones own ears and ignoring the world around you.
I feel that when you have to isolate an idea and use force to defend it , it probably isn't a good idea .

This is my swing at nationalism. What do you think ?

Atheism is a religion like OFF is a TV channel !!!

Proud of my genetic relatives Big Grin
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01-06-2011, 07:14 AM
RE: Value and tradition
I feel the real issue is that tradition degrades values. There are certain small things about previous generations that are better, but generally the people wishing for the good old days are wanting to go back to when everyone was given the exact same explanation of life, and those who disagreed were shunned or killed. Women had a revolution within the US and liberated themselves from the oppression faced almost all throughout homo-erectus' life span. That didn't stop them from later seeking traditional values, and forsaking their hard earned victory because they see how things were before as "easier".

Values are a fluid social tool that change with times and adapt to better fit the current age. Often moving in a positive trend towards better lives. Tradition is a stagnant ideal that is seen as honorable by the fact that during a time it was upheld that life worked well, but tradition does not match values at a constant rate. It only matches values during the time that the values happen to line up with it. If you look back skeptically to the world before now you can see it was not a utopia or romantic dream, people weren't nicer to each other. It just seems that way from TV and the memories of those who lived in those times. The human brain is a lousy source for credibility. You are very unlikely to remember the many bad things that happened, and very likely to remember those brief good moments.

And as far as nationalism goes it only does one thing, promotes war by creating huge targets in "other" nations. It's an idea that should be moved past, because we are already sharing most of our collective knowledge. The secrets still kept could advance things much further if all shared. We'll never escape the fact that there are people with malicious intent, but we should not avoid progress in fear of these few. We should instead seek better ways to ensure the people who are watching and enforcing laws against these malicious people, so that they stop slowing progress down. I don't think every idea needs to be put to the practical test instantly. I believe that our current skepticism towards new innovation is perfectly accurate. But generally, when things are actually introduced they have been tested very adequately and there are only the occasional heavy side effects.

I don't classify myself as liberal or anything, I'm Lilith =p

I'm not a non believer, I believe in the possibility of anything. I just don't let the actuality of something be determined by a 3rd party.
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02-06-2011, 11:59 PM
RE: Value and tradition
Just to clarify I believe cultural pride is an important thing, and do not try to dissuade people from honoring their heritage. The issue is that generally when tradition is discussed they are mentioning ways of life that contradict the modern form by limiting rather than freeing.

They say chivalry is dead, it's a good thing, that means women aren't property anymore.

I'm not a non believer, I believe in the possibility of anything. I just don't let the actuality of something be determined by a 3rd party.
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03-06-2011, 12:41 AM
RE: Value and tradition
I see nationalism as a delusion where you think your country is better then others for the only reason that you where born in it.

I think nationalism is an artificially cultivated layer of your identity in as good as exactly the same way as your religion. I see no good rational reasons to think that any country is better then others since they all have benefits and issues.

We are at a point in time where both religion and nationalism are slowly becoming obsolete and where the systems that they use, divide more then they unifie. The critical mass of the growth, the speed of witch we travel and share information, and the magnitude on witch we all collectively influence our planet is just too large for concepts like "a fatherland" to handle. The only value a "country" still has is manageability of population, but we definitely need a layer on top of that.


Agnostic atheist
Secular humanist
Emotional rationalist
Disclaimer: Don’t mix the personal opinion above with the absolute and objective truth. Remember to think for yourself. Thank you.
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20-07-2011, 08:26 AM (This post was last modified: 20-07-2011 09:13 AM by Peterkin.)
RE: Value and tradition
One of the best illustrations i know of values vs tradition is in the movie Fiddler on the Roof . The sensible man finds a way around tradition (custom, teaching, social mores) to serve values (love, fulfillment, happiness) but finally, the two merge and he can't give up a core value (in this case, tribal identity) for a personal one (love for his child).

It is at this level we find tragedy. Tribal identity if something far more fundamental than nationalism: in almost every modern nation, there are two or more tribes - and that leads to partitions at best, genocide at worst, civil war alternating with uneasy truce in between.
Why? Because tribal identity is the basis of personal identity; the language, history, mythology and culture of a people are deeply implanted in every individual raised in that tribe. It is from there we derive our value systems, and tradition is the means of preserving tribal value systems.
Yes, there probably is a body of universal values shared by all cultures, but even if we could agree on what rules it has always included (Don't hoard food? Don't piss in the pond? don't kill a competent hunter or fertile female? .... except in sacrifice or legal punishment) it must be quite small and concerned only with bare survival - not life-style. Social organization, family structure, worth of each member, relation to nature, allocation of resources, attitude to other tribes are all variable over time and place. Tradition, being merely the vehicle, is adaptable to circumstance, more or less flexible, open to interpretation, usually contains its own 'little doors' when the big gate it closed. The core tribal value system is far more resistant to change - substantial change is usually the result of long and costly struggle.

The kind of values we (western progressives of the late 20th century) often think of as universal, such as equality and liberty, are actually post-tribal; set forth by modern thinkers; enshrined by supra-national institutions such as the UN. Disregarded by the majority of national elites, scorned by the global economic elite and not shared (either as a benefit or as a standard of behaviour) by the vast majority of people.

Of course i subscribe to pan-humanist values and no traditions. For an elderly middle-class white westerner, it's easy. We can see far because we stand on the shoulders of giants... and also on a huge heap of treasure looted by our forebears from all the world's civilizations. Both material and intellectual. We are rich, safe, comfortable, educated and relatively free. For people less fortunate - and in many, many cases, less fortunate, so that we could be more - tribal identity, on its traditional pillars loyalty, morality and duty, is all the security they have.

So, how can we help them achieve enlightenment?

If you pray to anything, you're prey to anything.
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