Tevye would not be happy
In the wonderful play “Fiddler on the Roof” Tevye (and the Papa’s) sing the classic song about “Tradition”. It goes:
“Who, day and night, must scramble for a living,
Feed a wife and children, say his daily prayers?
And who has the right, as master of the house, To have the final word at home?
The Papa, the Papa! Tradition.
The Papa, the Papa! Tradition.”
Well I don’t want to be a wet blanket but in today’s climate, a time when everybody gets their feelings hurt at the drop of a hat, tradition is in big trouble. Every day, it seems, more of our traditions come under assault.
We grew up with time honored traditions. Church on Sunday, vacations at the shore, root for the home ball club, go to the circus, go to church or town picnics, go to parades, go to the firehouse or schoolhouse and vote twice a year. We used to do that because, well, that was the way it was. It was a more peaceful and well-ordered time. Your family did what they did, other families did what they did. If it turned out that what they did bothered you, well you just paid no attention. Our traditions remained in place.
But times have changed. Traditions seem to offend people and social media is complicit. What we loved and cherished now have become just an excuse for somebody to dress up in some outlandish outfit (funny looking hats, little red riding hoods, black zorro-like costumes), occupy public or even private property, destroy things and stomp around blocking city intersections (making life difficult for people who actually work for a living) because they didn’t like what someone else did. Working used to be a tradition. It has been replaced by complainers who don’t really have any interest in it.
I first encountered these antitraditionalists some years ago when, while taking my granddaughter to the annual fundraising circus in Hatboro, we were accosted by a big-mouthed member of the PETA organization who didn’t like the fact that animals were being used in the circus (lions, tigers, elephants). This jerk confronted my 6-year-old granddaughter first and loudly told her to tell me not to take her to the circus, “yatta ta yatta ta yatta ta.” It upset the child and what I was planning to do (punch his lights out) would have just upset her more. So, instead, I did the proper thing and complained to a nearby police officer. But they won. Tradition be darned. No more Hatboro circus.
Not long after that they assailed the Abington Hospital June Fete because they had a small elephant there at the June Fete Farm. The elephant went away and we never went to the Fete again either. Now Ringling brothers has gone out of business and lots of smaller circuses have followed. The animals meanwhile are supposedly out grazing in someone’s farmland and we have no idea how they are being treated. Tradition? Really.
This summer a firemen’s annual pig roast in Malvern got cancelled just days before the event was to happen. People (?) began to complain on social media about the poor pig (I guess they were all vegans) and promised protests and worse if the pig roast was held. For the volunteer firemen it was a great fundraiser. That didn’t matter. People have been holding pig roasts since somebody discovered that they were good to eat. Try cancelling one in Hawaii and see how that flies. But the point here is that the protesters should have no status at all. They could really be nothing more than some clown in his jammies sitting by his computer in his mommy’s basement. You don’t really need to protest now, in this wonderful age of communications, you simply have to crank up your computer and threaten to protest. Tradition my foot!
I have warm memories of our Carmel Church Picnic at Green Lane (Montgomery County Park), of the Glenside 4th of July Parade (so far that hasn’t offended anyone that I know of), of wonderful holidays — religious and patriotic — and how towns used to get all dressed up with bright lights, manger scenes, trees (of late Abington as a township has taken a pass on Christmas). They probably don’t want to offend anyone, but in so doing they offended me. Traditions may go, but results remain.
I used to give a quiz to my college classes each semester and that spoke volumes because not only do today’s young people not know history, they have no understanding of our traditions either. My quiz asked such things as “Where is Pearl Harbor?” and they didn’t know. “Who won the Civil War?” They had no clue. “What nation did we gain our independence from? And all I heard was crickets. “Who shot Abraham Lincoln?” and it would blow your mind to read those answers. History is no longer being taught in school.
Our nation appears to have decided that the sacrifices of the very people that founded it no longer count. Two members of our family perished in wars defending a country that now people fail to honor our flag and hijack community events.
Is it any wonder that other nations think we are vulnerable? Our long-held and treasured traditions are just about dead and if you don’t help keep them alive then you are in no position to complain about what comes next. An end to all of our traditions.