The Beginning of Tradition

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Mike Dwyer

Mike Dwyer is a former writer and contributor at Ordinary Times.

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  1. Avatar Kazzy
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    Great piece, Mike. Something Zazzy and I are working on, especially since the arrival is Mayonnaise, is the cultivation of our family culture. Oddly, we are motivated less by preserving that which we like from our respective families, but moving away from that which we didn’t like. There were some flare ups that surrounded his birth, mostly the result of long-simmering but unaddressed issues, and which are are committed to not repeating with him… or each other. There are obviously pieces we want to retain. But by and large, we are looking at carving a new path and hopefully not making the same mistakes our parents did.

    This piece touches on one I plan to write in the near future. With your permission, I’d love to link to it, if not quote it.Report

  2. Avatar J@m3z Aitch
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    Great piece, Mike. It says lots of things that resonate with me, but that I could probably have never written down so coherently.

    It’s true that the little differences based on “how my family always did things” are an unexpected source of strife in marriage. My former sister-in-law was stunned when, shortly after getting married, my brother asked for a hair cut. Our mother always cut our hair, so unthinkingly he saw that as the woman of the family’s job. The key to those is to recognize which ones actually are really unimportant (my wife puts the toilet paper roll on backwards– 😉 — but I can live with that), and to not get stuck on them.

    But as to building traditions…absolutely. From blowing up fireworks in the back yard with the neighbors on Independence Day to the Dutch style breakfast that is absolutely necessary to start Christmas Day right, these are the things that provide memories and meaning.

    And while I’m not very conservative myself, your interpretation of conservatism is the aspect of it that does appeal to me.Report

    • Avatar Pierre Corneille in reply to J@m3z Aitch
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      I’ve offered to cut my wife’s hair with the electric razor I use to give myself a buzz cut. But for some reason, she won’t let me 🙂Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Pierre Corneille
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        It’s the thought that counts.Report

      • Avatar Maribou in reply to Pierre Corneille
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        says:

        Jaybird uses dog grooming shears (heavy duty) to cut my hair. We used to use the same razor, but I wore out regular electric razors WAY too fast…

        All that to say, your wife doesn’t know what she’s missing. :D.Report

        • Avatar Johanna in reply to Maribou
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          I once asked James to cut my hair. I have really thick hair so all I wanted was for him to cut the area I had sheared at the time and being young and low on cash, I didn’t think it would be an issue. I honestly didn’t care what it looked like because it was covered most of the time anyways. He tried, it evidently looked horrible and stressed him out a bit too much so he asked I not ask him to cut my hair again. I should note that we didn’t have shears at the time which would have dramatically changed this scenario but I as far as him cutting my hair, unless I want to shave it all off, I won’t enlist James to do so 🙂Report

  3. Avatar Don Zeko
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    says:

    Beautiful post, Mike. I can only hope that, the next time I come to realize that I was wrong, shortsighted, or what have you, I can be half so gracious and eloquent about it.Report

  4. Avatar Miss Mary
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    says:

    Great job, Mike.

    Something happened the other day that got me thinking about the end of relationships. Junior and I were playing in his wading pool in the front yard when I heard some talking. This is a little unusual because my neighborhood is very quiet other than the occasional kid riding their scooter or bike past, but mostly it is retired folks. Anyway, it turns out that a man was walking by my home and a woman was following along beside him in her car. She said something about being tired of his cheating, but she is not willing to give up because they have a family together (interracial racial relationship, if that matters at all). My first thought was, “geez lady, give it up. When you are reduced to this, it’s time to cut your loses and move on.” But is it? Is this just an obscenely public way to get to one of those compromises you speak of? How do you know when to go your separate ways? I suppose it is different for everyone. Maybe I just give up too easily. A good friend of mine has just filed for divorce after 20 years of marriage in a half-open marriage (he was free to date, she was not). I would not have waited 20 years to rid myself of that guy.Report

  5. Avatar BlaiseP
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    At best, tradition is an attempt to recapture some bygone moment through the process of ritual. There was a day when tradition mattered to me, when I’d have two Christmas parties, one big one for everyone with traditional music played live — and another, private one for family and a few friends. I was, in those days, a reformed Ebenezer Scrooge, delighting in Christmas.

    Not any more I’m not. I despair of tradition. No gesture is so meaningless as empty ritual. I’ve stood alone in a hotel room on Christmas Eve, my cat in my arms, watching the snow falling on an empty parking lot. My cat got a nice handful of treats. I’ve come to dread the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. It’s pointless trying to schedule anything for delivery, everyone’s either on vacation or completely unmotivated.

    I gave nice Christmas presents over the years. Seldom got any. I’m not complaining, just observing how Christmas fell from grace in my eyes. I wish Christianity would abandon the day to Santa Claus, the patron saint of Greed. Maybe change the name to Xmas or Santa Day or something else. Not Christmas. It has nothing to do with Christ, not the Jesus I worship anyway. Christmas is an eerie mockery of what I believe about Jesus, a man of sorrows, with nowhere to lay his head. I’ve been pretty low, all right. That Christmas Eve in St Peters MO, alone with my cat, that was pretty low. Jesus knew loneliness. So do a lot of people around Christmastime. Homelessness, too.

    Just lost someone in my immediate family. Went down to the funeral last week. Miserable time of it. Lots of drama in the family what with the rest of my siblings quarrelling. Couldn’t get out of town fast enough. Once that funeral and memorial service was over, I just climbed into my truck and drove out as fast as I could, didn’t wait around for the reception. If I ever go back it will be too soon.

    Tradition, it seems to me, is useful, insofar as it gives us ritual, something to repeat, a revisiting of something important. I’ve always loved the Latin Mass, loved the Hebrew ritual blessings, the magisterial scansion of the King James Bible. But tradition can become a trap, a substitute for meaning, an impediment to progress. The King James Bible is a weak translation. No serious Biblical scholar relies on it for accuracy. But everyone quotes it. It shaped the English language more than Shakespeare did.

    All relationships are an intricate dance of compromises and odd little adaptations. It’s not the Christmas presents which matter, it’s the spirit in which they’re given. I have a tradition of making Polish stollen bread and taking loaves of it hot to friends’ houses in the Christmas season. At a church I once attended, I would turn five pounds of flour into stollen and serve them at the coffee interval. It was my own secret form of sacred communion:

    Benedictus es, Dòmine, Deus univèrsi,
    quia de tua largitàte accèpimus panem, quem tibi offèrimus,
    fructum terrae et òperis mànuum hòminum:
    ex quo nobis fiet panis vitae.
    Benedìctus Deus in Sàecula.

    Blessed art thou, Lord, God of the universe,
    who through thy generosity we have bread to offer.
    Earth hath given it, human hands have made it.
    It becomes for us the bread of life.
    Blessed be God forever.

    Weddings, christenings, funerals — especially weddings, the ritual has only the meaning we bring to it. That meaning is contained within ourselves, the mystery of lovers, the hopeful entering into the deep promises till death do us part. And death will part us. For that parting, we have the ritual of funerals. Reason won’t dance at your wedding. It won’t grieve at your funeral. The deeper mysteries of the human heart demand ritual.Report

  6. Avatar Mike Schilling
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    says:

    This post is awesome. It’s not an answer to people who worry that SSM will hurt traditional mariage, it’s something better: a welcoming invitation to a conversation. It really should have a wider circulation than just the League, because, frankly, while we can all appreciate it, most of us already knew this without necessarily being to put it into words (certainly not such fine words.). It’s the wider world where this would do so much good.Report

  7. Avatar Sam
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    Oh, so we’re all just going to pretend like we didn’t see the part where somebody’s eating chili with macaroni?Report

  8. Avatar greginak
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    Great post. I’ve never been much into tradition but have developed some appreciation for it as i’ve grown older. After my son died i found we had developed some traditions i hadn’t even noticed. Maybe those are the best kind.

    Liberals need a conservative element to slow some things down and appreciate what might be lost with change and progress. But change will happen no matter how hard someone tries to stand on the tracks whining “stop.”Report

    • Avatar Cletus in reply to greginak
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      I must respectfully disagree. I do not feel that a conservative element to slow things down in matters of civil rights is helpful. Martin Luther King, Jr., said “Justice delayed is Justice denied” and I think that he was right.

      Allowing appeals to tradition to justify the allowance of bad practice is unhelpful because appeal to tradition is a logical fallacy. Mike Dwyer even mentions this in his original post. My own family comes from a marriage that would once have been considered an “affront to tradition” with grandparents who under certain state laws of the age would not have been allowed to marry and who had to have a civil ceremony because neither of their respective churches would allow a marriage to the other without one person “converting” first.

      Family traditions are fine and good. Community traditions can be good, to a point. Things that allow people to gather and make memories and connect with each other are wonderful. The moment any such tradition is allowed to be exclusionary, it has ceased to be a positive tradition and should be ended forthwith.

      I also must respectfully disagree with the idea that liberals do not have traditions or do not see the good in tradition as seems to have been Mike Dwyer’s underlying insinuation. If he did not mean to insinuate that, then I’d like him to clarify his point. The attempt by conservatives to lay sole claim to many American holidays and traditions lately is one of the reasons that the country is becoming so divided.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Cletus
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        Cletus,

        When I say ‘tradition’ in the sense of cultural instituions, my thoughts are that liberals are much more willing to ignore traditions in the creation of policy than conservatives. Essentially one is always looking ahead, one is always looking behind. Disraeli suggested that the best approach is to look in both directions. I would define that as progressive conservatism.Report

        • Avatar Kim in reply to Mike Dwyer
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          says:

          I’d like to see what you could come up with in terms of new traditions.
          With the way the world is changing…Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Mike Dwyer
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          says:

          As someone who is fairly liberal, I have certain struggles with “tradition”, mostly concentrated in two aspects of it: tradition for tradition’s sake and, related, feeling bound by tradition.

          Some things become “tradition” for good reason. We don’t eat pumpkin pie in the fall just because; we eat pumpkin pie in the fall because that is when the pumpkins are best for eating.

          But some other things have much less logic behind them. Sometimes a way of doing evolved over time and became accepted because a certain about of uniformity or standardization is ideal. It matters not whether we drive on the left or right side of the road, only that we are ALL driving on the SAME side of the road.

          So when we look at policy creation and its intersection with social institutions, I want to know whether we are bumping up against a tradition that is more or less purposeful. If it is the latter, if it is “tradition for tradition’s sake”, such that there would be little practical loss to eschewing it… well, if there would be great and demonstrable gains by adoption of a policy that requires abandoning it, I’m going to push for that and push back against those who would seek to bind us to tradition.

          I think same-sex marriage fits into this category.

          Of course, the trouble is ferreting out which traditions are really useful and meaningful and which are not. I will fully concede that I often look at something and say, “Meh, we can probably do it another way all the same,” only to learn afterward that that was not the case.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy
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            Just to make clear, I wasn’t disagreeing with Mike’s generalization about how libs and cons tend to view tradition, but simply offering my perspective on why I, a lib, fit his generalization.

            I’m not offended that he thinks that libs are more likely to eschew tradition because I am indeed more likely to eschew tradition because I tend to see less value in it than might a con. And I think that’s okay… for both of us.Report

        • Avatar Cletus in reply to Mike Dwyer
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          I don’t think you truly understand liberals then. It is not that we do not look behind, it’s that we don’t allow the past to function as a weight tied to our ankles. We love traditions so long as the traditions are meaningful and positive. We dislike traditions or “traditions” that are held onto for the sole justification that “we’ve always done it that way.” The former is a great way to make sure that each generation adds their own perspectives, ideas, and thoughts to the family. The latter is a way to make the next generation want to split off and sever ties completely.

          I come from a large and generally liberal family. We have adopted cousins and blood cousins alike. We gather whatever from wherever and we do so gladly. We have taken the traditional family recipes and each made our own changes. Grandma T’s blueberry muffins are Grandma T’s. My own muffins follow the same formula but I use a mix of olive oil and butter to replace the shortening. I sometimes make the recipe with an infused oil. It’s my recipe, lovingly adapted from hers and others in my family have their own adaptations. We trade recipes and when we get together share our knowledge. That’s good tradition of the former type. If we were to insist that Grandma T’s muffins are the only way muffins can ever be made, we would stunt our growth and be much less creative. That’s the bad, conservative type of tradition.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Dwyer
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          says:

          Hey, Mike. Remember when you wrote that post that was, like, all positive and stuff? And I said “hey, this is pro-this, pro-that, and pro-this other thing!” and people got all “SO ARE YOU SAYING THAT I AM ANTI-THIS???”

          This totally reminds me of that.Report

        • Avatar Philip H in reply to Mike Dwyer
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          says:

          Now Mike, Really?

          When I say ‘tradition’ in the sense of cultural instituions, my thoughts are that liberals are much more willing to ignore traditions in the creation of policy than conservatives. Essentially one is always looking ahead, one is always looking behind. Disraeli suggested that the best approach is to look in both directions. I would define that as progressive conservatism.

          First, I expect better of you – more nuance, less absolutism. Second, Liberals like myself love tradition. We get marreid and buried according to tradition, we get divorced according to prior practice (I won’t elevate that to tradition) we root for our favorite college team for tradition, and we even vote because of tradition (and have some science to back that tradition up).

          What Liberals ARE more likely to do then SOME Conservatives is approach a decision point and ask if real data underpins or undermines the traditional approach. For me, the marriage debate these last few years has centered on what’s the social and economic cost of denying a legal structure for my gay and lesbian friends to stand in front of a group they select and pledge to stay together, support each other, and tackle the world as a unit instead of two individual people. Given the 50% divorce rate in our country for heterosexual first marriages, I couldn’t find any data to say that limiting marriage to a heterosexual couple made any sense socially, and economically it creates numerous additional costs for a well defined segment of our population (who have to take on numerous additional legal expenses to do simple things like visit someone in a hospital). Those data told me that limiting the definition of marriage as a legal matter (which is part tradition and part not) was a waste of everyone’s time. My Christian side told me that limiting marriage as a sacred matter was an affront to the dignity of all parties involved.

          So, no, we don’t automatically trash tradition – but we do confront tradition with how the world is now, and ask if tradition needs a shakeup. You do too – and that distinguishes you from many of your Conservative brothers and sisters who do not.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Philip H
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            says:

            Phillip – I think the statement was meant to be a pretty big generalization. Obviously there is always nuance and you and I are good examples of that. When I say that conservatives defend tradition, I mean that we usually start with the question, “Why should we to change this policy?” whereas a liberal might say, “Why shouldn’t we change this policy?”

            It’s two sides of the same coin.Report

            • Avatar Philip H in reply to Mike Dwyer
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              says:

              So true, but too many folks on both sides seem to fail to acknowledge the existence of the coin as a start.Report

            • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Mike Dwyer
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              says:

              I question the assertion wherein Conservatives are the steadfast guardians of tradition. There are two sorts of tradition: we see them in Judaism. The Satmars have their own insular and hateful variant. The Chabad Lubovitschers reach out, friendly-like, inclusive of others, calling Jews back to more traditional modes of Judaism, standing up for what is right and good in the world. Satmar stands against many things, Chabad stands for things.

              The continuing problem for Conservatism these days is its insularity, its rejectionism. Which isn’t to say Conservatives aren’t friendly or don’t engage in outreach, but such voices are drowned out by louder, reactionary voices.

              I used to call myself a Conservative. I can’t, anymore. I refuse to be associated with the Anti-this-ers and Anti-that-ers. All such spiteful and ugly sophistry is just annoying. More damning, once society has passed them by, as it’s done so many times before: civil rights, LGBT rights, feminism, divorce — we’re still fighting this Christian Nation crap and God alone knows when we’ll be done with the fervent Anti-Islamism in the ranks of Conservatism — the Conservatives will tell us to our faces, butter won’t melt in their mouths as they say it, either — that they never advocated for bigotry.Report

          • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Philip H
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            says:

            Philip, it sounds to me like you just explained why liberals are more likely to set aside tradition than conservatives. I’m not sure why you’re objecting to Mike’s claim, when you seem to actually be agreeing and justifying it.

            After all, isn’t one of the liberal critiques of conservatism that it’s too hidebound, too unwilling to change and leave old ways behind when their problems are revealed? And isn’t that jusy a way of saying conservatives are less willing to let go of tradition, which necessarily implies that liberals are more willing to let go?

            I’m supremely puzzled that this statement, when made by conservatives, always produces one or two liberal objections, even though liberals make the same claim, just phrased a little differently.Report

            • Avatar Sam Wilkinson in reply to J@m3z Aitch
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              Is there an example of a tradition that has been “set aside” for us to work with? Because marriage ain’t it. What exactly are we talking about here?Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Sam Wilkinson
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                I fairly dread trying to communicate with you, Sam. We never manage to understand each other. But begin with this: I’m not criticizing either tradition changers or tradition conservers–If you think there is a normative claim about eithet in my comment, you’re going to misread it.

                My point is just that liberals cannot simultaneously criticize conservatives for clinging too tightly to traditions–which they do, and in my mind with just reason–while objecting when conservatives agree that do in fact they hold more tightly to tradition than liberals.Report

              • Avatar Sam Wilkinson in reply to J@m3z Aitch
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                Respectfully, I don’t think that’s the retort. I think liberals accuse conservatives (rightly) of clinging to traditions and I think liberals object when conservatives insinuate that they’re the only ones WITH traditions. Those are two different critiques though.

                But that doesn’t deal with my question. I want to know about abandoned traditions. Because marriage hasn’t been abandoned. My wife reminds me of this every morning.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Sam Wilkinson
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                Did Mike insinuate that conservatives are the only ones with traditions?

                On the latter point, marriage before cohabiting is an area where conservatives are more likely to stick with and defend tradition instead of modernizing.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Will Truman
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                *eyeroll* for a certain definition of tradition…Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Will Truman
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                says:

                This may explain why Republicans get divorced more often than Democrats.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Will Truman
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                says:

                Which kinda comes back to the point. It’s my experience that now liberals eyeroll at more traditions than do conservatives.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Will Truman
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                No, Blaise, it doesn’t explain that. Premarital cohabitation does not correlate negatively with divorce.Report

              • Avatar Sam Wilkinson in reply to Will Truman
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                says:

                Will,

                Social conservatives had an entire movement predicated on rolling their eyes at the idea that gays loved one another. I’d hardly think that one side is taking a substantive lead on this.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Will Truman
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                Sam,

                I think the issue is that, for a long, long time, folks, conservatives and liberals alike, viewed religion as between a man and a woman. That is the “traditional” definition of marriage. Or at least one than generally went unchallenged for a long time.

                It has since been challenged. Primarily by liberals. And rightfully so, says I! And while there were a multitude of ways that opponents pushed back against this challenge, a primary one was an appeal to tradition.

                Liberals were willing to say, “It matters not what we thought of it then.”
                Conservatives were saying, “Oh, it most certainly does.”Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Will Truman
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                says:

                will,
                now just hold on a cottonpicking minute!
                I wuz eyerolling at your understanding of traditions.
                I live in a Commonwealth, and here we have (had? did the conservatives get rid of it?) this funny idea of common law marriage. Know why we got it? Cuz it ain’t traditional to have the money to call in a priest. Folks would post the banns, and then go on and “cohabitate.”

                Traditions are funny things somedays. I could tell you some about where I come from that would make you weep. (and I’m not even saying that we’re entirely too awful about ’em either).Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Will Truman
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                So stipulated, Will. There’s a synthesis here, I believe. If you skip a bit, as did Brother Maynard, you’ll see how early marriage does correlate with divorce.

                One day, hugely depressed, I sat in a bar next to an attorney who told me “I hate handling divorces. Marriage may be a contract, but divorce will bind its victims more closely than any marriage contract.” I hired her immediately.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Will Truman
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                says:

                Sam, gay marriage isn’t a tradition, yet. They roll their eyes (worse than that, actually) at changing and modernizing the institution.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Sam Wilkinson
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                Sam,

                Of course Mike never said liberals don’t have traditions, so your comment seems to be assuming a position he hasn’t taken.

                As to your question, it has nothing to do with the argument I was making, so I don’t know why you’r posing it to me.Report

              • Avatar Sam Wilkinson in reply to J@m3z Aitch
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                says:

                J@m3z Aitch,

                I was responding to you. You wrote, “…more likely to set aside tradition than conservatives.” My point is that marriage hasn’t been set aside. I was asking if there are examples where other traditions have been.Report

              • Avatar Sam Wilkinson in reply to J@m3z Aitch
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                says:

                1. I assume you’re kidding.

                2. If you’re not kidding, what does that have to do with liberals/conservatives?

                3. I spent a year in two bowling leagues. They were on Thursday nights. It was packed enough to close the facility that night. There were leagues every night of the week, each of them packed enough to close the facility to outside players from 8-10.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to J@m3z Aitch
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                Sam,
                But I wasn’t talking about marriage. I was talking about the logical contradiction in criticizing conservatives for being too tradition bound while denying liberals are less tradition bound. The one logically requires the other. This is true even if the statements are empirically false–it’s a matter of formal logic.

                E.g.,
                – All Greeks are monkey-cow hybrids.
                – Socrates is a Greek
                – therefore, Socrates is a monkey-cow hybrid.

                It’s not true, but it’s logically correct.

                So I wasn’t saying anything about whether conservatives and liberals differ on tradition; just critiquing a logical contradiction.

                If you want to address what I was actually talking about, which is a non-normative claim, we can discuss that. If you want to challenge me on a normative claim I wasn’t addressing, I’m not going to oblige.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to J@m3z Aitch
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                So objectively superior bowlers were denied the opportunity to bowl because of affirmative action for league members? Sounds pretty liberal to me.Report

              • Avatar Sam Wilkinson in reply to J@m3z Aitch
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                says:

                Is it necessarily illogical to say that:

                1. Conservatives remain unwilling to alter their precious traditions in the slightest.
                2. Conservatives are wrong to believe that they’re the only ones with traditions.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to J@m3z Aitch
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                says:

                “Conservatives are wrong to believe that they’re the only ones with traditions.”

                Who said conservatives are the only ones with traditions?Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to J@m3z Aitch
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                Sam,

                Still not relevant to my point, and answering your questions woudn’t make it clearer, so I’ll pass. I don’t get why you keep asking me questions that aren’t relevant to what I was saying. Once again, it’s clear that you and I just don’t communicate.Report

              • Avatar Sam Wilkinson in reply to J@m3z Aitch
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                says:

                That’s the implication of the critique: conservatives have traditions (which they hold onto) but liberals, by virtue of being willing to set aside traditions, must not have any (because they’re so set-aside-able).Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to J@m3z Aitch
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                says:

                I think that says more about your vision of tradition than anything Mike argued.

                As I just said somewhere else, it is not that conservatives have traditions and liberals do not. It is that conservatives put more value on the idea of tradition.

                You are far more likely to hear conservatives than liberals make a, “Because that is how we’ve always done it” type argument.Report

              • Avatar Sam Wilkinson in reply to J@m3z Aitch
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                says:

                Kazzy,

                This isn’t a matter of “putting more value on the idea of tradition.” Both sides value marriage. Conservatives (apparently) value the exclusionary aspects of marriage; Liberals (apparently) value the beneficial aspects of marriage. Both value an aspect of the tradition. But that’s not how the argument goes.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to J@m3z Aitch
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                says:

                When you say “The tradition of marriage”… what does the word ‘tradition’ mean to you in that context?Report

              • Avatar Sam Wilkinson in reply to J@m3z Aitch
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                says:

                Two people having their love for one another acknowledged legally by the community.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to J@m3z Aitch
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                says:

                No no… not marriage… tradition…

                If I rewrote your sentence and called it “the practice of marriage”, does that change the meaning. If so, how?Report

              • Avatar Sam Wilkinson in reply to J@m3z Aitch
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                says:

                The tradition, I suppose, is the history of having done things in this way.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to J@m3z Aitch
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                says:

                I think we’re talking past each other.

                I’m speaking about the IDEA of tradition… not any specific tradition.

                Liberals rarely make an appeal to tradition. We rarely say, “We should do it this way because that is the way we’ve always done it.”

                Through our support of SSM, we sought to change the way that marriage had always been done, since it had almost always excluded gays. So when opponents responded by saying, “But we’ve been doing it this way for thousands of years,” we responded in turn by saying, “Who cares?” (among other things).

                The extent to which we support specific traditions is not because of their historicity but because we believe in their underlying principles. We don’t support the freedom of speech because someone wrote those words down 250 years ago; we support it because we believe in the principle behind it.Report

              • Avatar Sam Wilkinson in reply to J@m3z Aitch
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                says:

                Kazzy,

                Perhaps we witnessed the gay marriage movement differently. I saw people with adulation for the tradition of formal recognition of love voluntarily entered into and revulsion at society’s exclusion of many loving couples. Frankly, the argument I saw was in essence, “We should include gays because that is the way we’ve always done it with loving couples.”Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to J@m3z Aitch
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                says:

                Pulling further back, is it your argument then that liberals have JUST AS MANY traditions as conservatives and are JUST AS ATTACHED to the idea of tradition as conservatives?Report

            • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to J@m3z Aitch
              Ignored
              says:

              Let us suppose Liberals are more willing to abandon tradition than Conservatives. Which ethical axioms might induce such abandonment? Principles are abstract: they are given life in case studies, real people encountering perceived discrimination.

              Which axioms take primacy? Equal Justice Under Law, engraved over the entrance to the Supreme Court building at One First Street in Washington DC ? Or Scalia’s fulminating dissent in U.S. v Windsor? There’s the question before us all. The Liberals do not make the same claim. Do not presume to put words in anyone’s mouth, Hanley. Either Equality matters or it doesn’t. Puzzle through that one at your leisure. I do not expect a coherent answer any more than I might have expected one from Justice Scalia.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                Do not presume to put words in anyone’s mouth, Hanley. Either Equality matters or it doesn’t.

                Brilliant, Blaise. The irony of you saying that while obviously putting words in my mouth is delicious. Honey-dipped donut delicious. Root beer float delicious. Funnel cake at the fair delicious. Because not only did I made no normative claims about equality in my comment, I doubt not that most regular readers of the League knows where I stand on same-sex marriage.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to J@m3z Aitch
                Ignored
                says:

                Which isn’t exactly responsive, Hanley. It’s just a way of saying conservatives are less willing to let go of bigotry, which necessarily implies that liberals are more willing to let go.

                And not merely let go, it’s the Liberals who must fight tooth and nail to force bigotry out of our laws. And for it, much praise and thanks do we get from the likes of you and your mealy-mouth tu-quoque excuses. No, I will stick with history and facts and advise you to do the same. What passes for Conservatism these days is against many things and for very few. But this is also true of Libertarians: small wonder you would summon up snark and tu-quoque instead of a meaningful response as to which ethical axioms and Murkan Traditions guide Libruls.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                It seems that people are assuming that the acknowledgement that liberals might be more willing to abandon tradition is a criticism. And I’m sure some who utter it might mean it as such. But it isn’t necessarily so. In fact, many liberals identify themselves by their very willingness to abandon such.

                I’m really not understanding the backlash here. No one has said that liberals don’t have tradition; only that they tend to be less wed to tradition on the whole. They might support a particular tradition, but probably for reasons beyond the fact that it is tradition. The pushback here seems predicated on a strange idea that liberals want to be viewed as traditionalists, something they generally want no part of.

                Huh?Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                Nailed it.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                Uh oh… if Hanley like what I’ve written, I’ve definitely waded into “bad liberal” territory.

                I’m going to have to walk through the ‘flogging door’ at Whole Foods next time I shop, aren’t I?Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                Yes. They’ve already been notified.Report

              • Avatar Sam Wilkinson in reply to Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                I think liberals don’t want to be viewed as having “torn down” marriage, which is what they’re repeatedly accused of. Their bone of contention isn’t marriage, in other words, but the exclusion of gays from it.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m going to have to walk through the ‘flogging door’ at Whole Foods next time I shop, aren’t I?

                Whole Foods has gotten subtler. Now they punish by overcharging you horribly.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                I’d prefer the flogging.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                Whatever things Seem to be, the facts are tragically obvious. Conservatives have been on the losing side of every ethical debate in the last century.

                Reducing my point to the casuistic pilpul of what constitutes Tradition ignores the question I’m asking, questions everyone’s avoiding, especially Hanley, who like Scalia, believes effrontery and bile are responsive to a deeper question. Liberals hold with Equality Under Law as the fundamental axiom. To this end, they’ve fought for equal rights where Conservatives have opposed such rights, invoking Tradition.

                You know, upstream, I wrote a longish comment about my thoughts on the subject of Tradition, how I hate empty ritual. I seldom get responses to musings on that sort, nor do I expect them. They aren’t that sort of comments.

                But if that comment didn’t sum up my thoughts on the matter, that the deeper mysteries of the human heart demand ritual, what possibly could? Marriage isn’t just a ritual, it’s a licence granted by the state. Conservatives have stood on the wrong side of these Equality debates for too long, too resolutely, without the slightest rationale for their positions beyond mere Tradition. I don’t care if anyone doesn’t understand me. I want answers to the questions I ask. And I’m not getting them.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                I formally request that you stop lying about me.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                (gently, as one might with a particularly petulant child) Wherein lies the essence of my lie, Hanley? Have you answered the questions I asked? If ritual and traditions are physical manifestations of deeper truths, which is the deeper truth? Equal Justice Under Law? Or Scalia accusing his fellow justices

                However, even setting aside traditional moral disapproval of same-sex marriage (or indeed same-sex sex), there are many perfectly valid—indeed, downright boring—justifying rationales for this legislation. Their existence ought to be the end of this case. For they give the lie to the Court’s conclusion that only those with hateful hearts could have voted “aye” on this Act. And more importantly, they serve to make the contents of the legislators’ hearts quite irrelevant: “It is a familiar principle of constitutional law that this Court will not strike down an otherwise constitutional statute on the basis of an alleged illicit legislative motive.” (United States v. O’Brien). Or at least it was a familiar principle. By holding to the contrary, the majority has declared open season on any law that (in the opinion of the law’s opponents and any panel of like-minded federal judges) can be characterized as mean-spirited.

                You are not alone in calling people liars, Hanley. I know you too well to take your vitriol terribly seriously and rather like you, all your shortcomings notwithstanding. I have not lied about you. You would call a man a liar in preference to refuting his claims. It only amuses me further to see you Formally Request anything, my questions unanswered.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                Q: Wherein lies the essence of my lie, Hanley?

                A1: Hanley, who like Scalia, believes effrontery and bile are responsive to a deeper question

                A2: it’s the Liberals who must fight tooth and nail to force bigotry out of our laws. And for it, much praise and thanks do we get from the likes of you

                Both false. Both unavoidably known by you to be false, and yet you say it, knowing the falsity of your own words. And they’re just added on top of yesterday’s lie about me not answering your question, which, ironically, was in the same comment thread where I answered you.

                Have you answered the questions I asked?

                You dd not ask any questions relevant to what I wrote. And your questions relied on false assumptions about my position on equality. Therefore, those questions deserved no answer. Were you to ask them honestly, without the negative implications about me, I might answer. But that requires an integrity and honesty on your part that I have not yet, to my memory, witnessed.

                I have not lied about you

                You have. You are just too weak of a man to admit it.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                This is putting words in people’s mouths, Hanley:

                After all, isn’t one of the liberal critiques of conservatism that it’s too hidebound, too unwilling to change and leave old ways behind when their problems are revealed? And isn’t that jusy a way of saying conservatives are less willing to let go of tradition, which necessarily implies that liberals are more willing to let go?

                And when asked why Liberals might be more inclined to abandon such traditions, your response is some spittle-flecked psychotic fugue about Funnel Cakes.Report

              • Avatar Cletus in reply to Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                Kazzy, the problem is that conservatives far too often use “tradition” as a way to try to disenfranchise liberals of the history that liberals are a part of and cherish. There is a reason I brought up the 4th of July celebration.

                I am a liberal. I cherish the Constitution as a LIBERAL document. It contains some incredibly liberal ideas. It was an act of liberal optimism when created. I cherish the Declaration of Independence as well for similar reasons. I cherish the 4th of July. I think that spending a day thinking about the founding of the country and the principles that were involved is a great thing. And then it all falls apart when some beered-up conservative starts ranting at the 4th of July celebration about how liberals need to get their hands off “his” constitution and hating America, and why are there taco trucks at “his” “American” holiday fireworks show.

                Tradition is part of my heritage, my Americanness, and I’m a little bit tired right now of conservatives trying to lay claim to every single American tradition and insisting that anyone who doesn’t drink their kool-aid should not participate in the American traditions like life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

                I think the first thing that needs to happen is that conservatives need to realize how liberal the constitution really is and start to realize that we liberals love the country and are just as much a part of the country as they are.Report

              • Avatar Cletus in reply to Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                J@m3z, BlaiseP: Stop it girls you’re both pretty.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                This is putting words in people’s mouths, Hanley:
                “After all, isn’t one of the liberal critiques of conservatism that it’s too hidebound, too unwilling to change and leave old ways behind when their problems are revealed? “

                Really? You don’t think the words come from the mouths of liberals? How droll.

                From Rational Wiki (article “Og or Ug”):

                Conservatives cling to tradition because they feel safe.

                From conservativemyths dot com slash compare:

                conservative policies seek to conserve, protect or expand hierarachies, institutions and traditions

                And from Rationally Speaking:

                These two quotes together broadly describe one pillar of modern conservatism: a desire to maintain traditional structures and ideas, allowing minimal, if any, change. This attitude is contrasted with the one often seen in liberalism, which looks to advance structures and ideas based on progressing scientific knowledge and human reasoning

                Tell you what, though: Despite these actual quotes, if you can get three of our known liberals here at the League to affirm that hide-bound traditionalism is not a liberal critique of conservatism (I don’t mean one held by all liberals, but one that is snugly within the set of liberal critiques), I’ll write a check for $100 to the charity of your choice. I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is. Are you?

                And when asked why Liberals might be more inclined to abandon such traditions, your response is some spittle-flecked psychotic fugue about Funnel Cakes.

                Spittle-flecked? Well, there’s no arguing with the master. anyway, here’s where you really are running aimlessly around in left field. The question might make sense if directed to someone who had criticized liberals for not being tradition-bound, but of course I didn’t do any such thing. The question being entirely irrelevant to anything I said, as well as to anything I believe, I have no motivation to answer it, and can only wonder at your motivation for asking it (certainly I cannot puzzle out any motivation that is both non-hostile and that demonstrates understanding of the distinction between a statement of logic and a normative values claim).

                That being the case, I gave your argument all the consideration to which it was due: None. Directed at someone who had criticized liberals for “abandon”ing tradition, the question would make sense. Directed at me? Nonsensical to the last degree.*

                Now can we please put this to rest, or must you respond with yet another transparently false attack?
                _____________________
                *Part of what’s so nonsensical is that I–obviously, publicly, loudly–am one of those folks that has pushed for abandoning tradition on the issue of same-sex marriage. And given how much I write here, and that you obviously read what I write, it’s not plausible that you don’t know that I’m one of those tradition-abandoners. It’s like asking a fan of blues music if they don’t think people have good reasons for liking the blues–it’s a non-sequitur, and all it will do is make people look at you strangely.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                This isn’t the first time you’ve tried this stunt. Attempting to dragging other people into this fight, well it’s contemptible. Anything, anything but answer my question. Of course you put words in people’s mouths, you’re soliciting them now, in advance, in hopes someone will rescue you.

                Did I not say “Let us suppose Liberals are more willing to abandon tradition than Conservatives.” Wretched translator, obtuse preacher, sermonising and tub-thumping to tell us all And isn’t that jusy a way of saying conservatives are less willing to let go of tradition, which necessarily implies that liberals are more willing to let go?.

                Well it’s bloody well not just a way of saying it. Stand by your own translation or at least your half-truth paraphrase, if you dare. Necessarily implications being what they are, you have reached a conclusion all on your lonesome. Nothing will save you now. A closed mouth gathers no feet.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                Go to bed, Blaise. I’ll tell you a story and sing a lullaby if it will help you sleep.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                And again you lie.Report

            • Avatar Cletus in reply to J@m3z Aitch
              Ignored
              says:

              Personally what I took exception to was the insistence that it is a good thing to have conservatives operating as the lead weight holding everyone down in the name of “tradition.”

              There are many outside influences here. We just had the 4th of July holiday and I find myself astounded at the number of conservatives who want to claim the Founding Fathers as their own. I find myself astounded at the number of conservatives who want to claim the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as their own. I found myself astounded by the number of conservatives who made derogatory comments or insisted that the presence of a taco truck next to a hot dog truck and an ice cream truck at the evening’s fireworks show was some sort of an affront to American Values.

              Greginak said “Liberals need a conservative element to slow some things down and appreciate what might be lost with change and progress.” That’s the part that I can’t agree with. I do not think that liberals fail to appreciate what might be lost with change and progress. I do not think that liberals are “always looking ahead” while conservatives “are always looking behind.” Mike Dwyer says ” Disraeli suggested that the best approach is to look in both directions.” I agree but I think that is precisely what liberals do. We look at the tradition and we ask the question: is this a good tradition? Is this a tradition that includes everyone and helps us connect? Or is this a tradition that is excluding people or hurting people? Is this a tradition that harms rather than heals?

              Conservatives may make the claim that they prefer tradition above all else. Liberals are categorically not the opposite side of the coin. We are the edge of the coin mid-flip, weighing the impact of both sides pro- and con- before making our decision.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Cletus
                Ignored
                says:

                I’d rather have another viewpoint than ten liberals debating the issue. Ten liberals, twenty ideas.Report

              • Avatar Cletus in reply to Kim
                Ignored
                says:

                Was there a point to this comment beyond summarily dismissing me from the conversation?Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Cletus
                Ignored
                says:

                yes, but greg makes it better below.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Cletus
                Ignored
                says:

                I stand by my statement. Nobody can look at everything and consider everything. Nobody can consider all views. I’m a liberal, i want change and progress and i’ll argue for it. But i also know i’m not very traditional myself nor do i think much about tradition. We need to hear from different views to try to stumble forward in the best direction. I in no way am defending the far to often recalcitrance of conservatives regarding social progress. Conservatives have let themselves fall into defending the indefensible or trying to avoid change at all costs or valuing gauzy nostalgia but calling it traditions and values. We would be better off with more voices and views in our debates. Liberals, conservatives, libertarians, social democrats all have something to offer. One of the biggest problems we have in our politics is we have such a narrow slice of views represented in the press or gov.Report

            • Avatar Philip H in reply to J@m3z Aitch
              Ignored
              says:

              After all, isn’t one of the liberal critiques of conservatism that it’s too hidebound, too unwilling to change and leave old ways behind when their problems are revealed? And isn’t that jusy a way of saying conservatives are less willing to let go of tradition, which necessarily implies that liberals are more willing to let go?

              While this will get stuffed way down the lengthy list of replies . . . . there’s a logical fallacy to your argument (I forget which one) that’s akin to a statement we in the science world use often – correlation does not imply causation. Liberals, IMHO are no more willing to let go then conservatives. We ARE more willing to ask whether we should let go, and then try to answer that question with data, history and experience, not gut reaction or emotional preference. Using Mike’s phrasing, liberals are more prone to ask “Does the policy need changing?” where conservatives ask why it should be changed.Report

        • Avatar Sam in reply to Mike Dwyer
          Ignored
          says:

          Mike,

          I’d like to respectfully join the chorus here: I don’t think the issue is ignoring tradition so much as opening it up to people who had previously been excluded. Gay marriage’s advocates weren’t ignoring the tradition of marriage so much as being asked to be let in. What liberals might be doing is altering traditions, but I don’t see that as being necessarily problematic, especially given how subordinating tradition can tend to be.

          Do you have other examples to bolster this claim about liberal policy making?Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Cletus
        Ignored
        says:

        So one ought to end Christmas? And 3 Kings? And Cinco de Mayo?Report

        • Avatar Cletus in reply to Kim
          Ignored
          says:

          How did you possibly get that out of what I said?Report

          • Avatar Kim in reply to Cletus
            Ignored
            says:

            I’m Jewish. Dat help?
            What’s exclusionary to you may not be to me.
            But even a neighborhood block party is exclusionary.

            All I’m trying to say is that if you want to end all traditions
            that are exclusionary, then you’re gonna end a LOT of ’em.

            Personally, I might look at ending traditions that do harm
            to the participants, or lead to manifest harm in those that
            are excluded. (IANAL, “manifest harm” is fuzzy)Report

            • Avatar Philip H in reply to Kim
              Ignored
              says:

              Kim,
              Exclusionary traditions, and traditions that do harm to the participants or lead to manifest harm are really different names for the same thing, no? And Cletus isn’t advocating trashing traditions – he’s advocating letting the ones evolve that need to evolve, and laying to rest the ones that do, as you put it, lead to manifest harm. That’s a simple application of critical thinking, a skill that Mike heartily and openly supports.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Philip H
                Ignored
                says:

                Philip,
                What you define as manifest harm to the participants is probably not what I mean by it.
                By my definition, we’d be working to end the Amish and Indian reservations.

                Doing harm to the participants is something that we can define strictly (mercury poisoning, imbibing of poorly cooked human tissue). Or it’s something we can define much more broadly.

                I find it interesting that most folks are only in favor of removing the exclusionary traditions that are empowered. I mean, seriously, are you really going to argue that we ought to get rid of AAVE? That’s exclusionary, ya know? 😉Report

              • Avatar Philip H in reply to Kim
                Ignored
                says:

                Point of order – Amish communities are not “reservations” they are self-selected closed communities set up by their own members. I would agree that Native American “reservations” are a “traditional” construct that does real manifest harm to Native Americans (particularly economically) and I’d be happy to see a campaign to abolish them as a matter of US law.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Philip H
                Ignored
                says:

                No, they most certainly are not reservations. please reword to read the Indian reservations and the Amish communities.
                I still believe that they do manifest harm to the kids who grow up there, and that they prevent folks from reaching their full potential.Report

  9. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    The story I like to tell about small compromises involves milk. I grew up in household where we drank 2% milk. My wife’s family drank skim milk. For a short time after we got married we would buy both types. We soon found this impractical, but luckily the dairy industry provided us with a solution. We are now a 1% household and it has been this way for nearly 10 years. As I have suggested to many newlyweds over the years, this is what compromise really means in a marriage.

    While I appreciate what you’re saying here, what I’m reading is “we figured out a way to make sure that neither one of us gets the type of milk we really want.”

    Is space really that limiting in the fridge? Two half gallons don’t have that much more of a footprint than a full gallon.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      Jaybird,

      We drink 2-3 gallons per week, so it was a nuisance. We’ve also tried other compromises that ended like you note with no one really happy (don’t get me started on multi-colored vs. white Christmas lights). With the milk we found the compromise worked…although occassionally the grocery store mysteriously runs out of 1% and my daughter and I delight in the luxury of 2% again.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Mike Dwyer
        Ignored
        says:

        don’t get me started on multi-colored vs. white Christmas lights

        Heh. For the first ten years or so, we settled on alternating Christmas by Christmas. Now we’re just happy to find a string that works.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Dwyer
        Ignored
        says:

        One of the trivial things that Maribou and I hammered out was that she likes the middle part of any given baguette and I like the heels. When we were first married, we’d go out to eat and I’d make sure that I always left her some of the heels in the bread basket and magnanimously took some of the middle part.

        When we finally hammered out the parts of the loaf that we liked, something as silly as how the bread is divvied up from the bread basket became a lot better without us really changing anything. I get the heels! Yay! She gets the middles! Yay!

        The hard part was figuring out that there was something to be hammered out.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Mike Dwyer
        Ignored
        says:

        our shiny colorful moodlighting stays up year round, though it’s generally used more in winter.
        Less electricity than turning the lights on.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      “While I appreciate what you’re saying here, what I’m reading is “we figured out a way to make sure that neither one of us gets the type of milk we really want.””

      But isn’t there value in expanding the circle of things that you “want” and/or accepting that you won’t always get *exactly* what you want?

      I agree that if space and price were no issue, separate milks would be fine. But since it appears that it were, I think there is something to saying, “I’m okay not having everything exactly as I like.”Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        I am okay with not having everything exactly as I like.

        But we’re not talking about everything. We’re talking about a specific thing and, moreover, a specific thing where not only do I not get exactly what I want, my bargaining partner does not get exactly what she wants. Our compromise involves neither of us getting what we want.

        Surely a compromise where “one of us gets exactly what we want this time, then we’ll switch off” is better than one where “neither of us gets what we want”. Hell, surely a compromise where “I get what I want here and you get what you want there” is better than one that says “neither of us gets what we want”.

        It’s like picking a movie where I want to see “Perpetual Adolescent Male Violent Comedy” and she wants to see “Dance Movie With Paper Thin Plot” and we compromise and instead see “Movie Neither Of Us Wants To See”. Isn’t it better to split up and watch different movies? Or for me to watch “Dance Movie” and buy the DVD for PAMVC when it comes out?

        I’m okay with me not getting my way. I don’t see the point in neither of us getting our way in the name of agreeing on something.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird
          Ignored
          says:

          I hear what you’re saying. The milk is a bit of a unique example because it’d be like if you compromised and saw Perpetual Adolescent Dance Movie Comedy. In most scenarios, there isn’t a blend of the two that would be 85% satisfying to both people.

          Zazzy and I are in a bit of a tussle over our cats. I never really wanted them but knew how much she did and agreed to it, which I always viewed as my concession on the matter. But now that they are hear, I’m asked to make additional concessions. Part of this is a function of us not really hammering out what we needed to hammer out.

          I say, “I don’t mind them here but I don’t want their hair on my pillow.”
          She says, “Meet me halfway, I’ll try to keep them off your pillow but it might happen.”
          I say, “The fact that they are here shows I’ve already come far more than halfway.”
          She says, “They are already here. Now we must meet halfway.”
          Etc.

          At this point, I’ve finally gotten them relegated to the basement. But now neither of us is really happy. She doesn’t get to see them as much as she’d like. And I still have cats. We’ve got 1% milk. We’ll probably let them back out. I’ll give in. I always do.

          I hate those stupid little fuckers. Which reminds me of a post I need to write…Report

        • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
          Ignored
          says:

          But Jaybird, do you really want one type of milk more than you want you’re wife/SO/life partner to be happy? Or if you don’t, how bout this: why not just get both types of milk?Report

        • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Jaybird
          Ignored
          says:

          Surely a compromise where “one of us gets exactly what we want this time, then we’ll switch off” is better than one where “neither of us gets what we want”. Hell, surely a compromise where “I get what I want here and you get what you want there” is better than one that says “neither of us gets what we want”.

          Respectfully, I think you’re missing two things here. First, you’re treating the choice between, say, 2% and 1% milk as a zero-sum game. 2% I win, 1% I lose. And it may be that distinct a choice for some people, but for many people the 2% may only be the highest valued choice, while 1% is still a net plus (compared to either no milk or skim). So the compromise doesn’t mean “losing,” as much as it means, “good enough.”

          The other is that you seem to think there’s a unique solution to the problem of making these kinds of bargains. But that’s an argument about the institutions of bargaining, and the better institutional theorists recognize that the institutions need to be designed for the local environment. The environment of a couple that both loathe 1% is different from an environment of a couple who each find 1% suboptimal but sufficient. And the environment of couples who find split-the-difference the best method because it means neither party triumphs over the other is different from the environment of a couple who prefer trading off wins and losses to keep things even. Both methods work, but each only works for the right type of couple. (And of course there are more than just those two methods.)Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to J@m3z Aitch
            Ignored
            says:

            I suppose, the gradient between milks probably makes it so that 1st choice, 2nd, and so on are fairly close together and that makes a preference for one over the other a weak preference (and if you’ve got a strong preference for, say, an uncluttered fridge) then compromise might be the best option.

            It’s just that I’ve seen people “compromise” for the sake of compromising too many times and both of them end up with something sub-optimal.

            I think the movie example is a stronger example than the milk one.Report

  10. Avatar Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    Funny thing about this thread, if I was the one that said,

    When I say that conservatives defend tradition, I mean that we usually start with the question, “Why should we to change this policy?” whereas a liberal might say, “Why shouldn’t we change this policy?”

    I don’t think it would have raised an eyebrow.Report

  11. Avatar Michael Drew
    Ignored
    says:

    Same thing with me and milk. We had skim at my dad’s (after he had a stern cholesterol warning from the doc); 2% at my mom’s. Now I, go figure, LOVE me some 1%.

    OTOH, my girlfriend prefers skim. Our compromise is to drink 1%. (Significantly, she is my girlfriend not my wife. Sue me – I’m the bigger milk drinker and there’s no .5%. Not that I’d drink it: one percent milk is too damn awesome.)Report

  12. Avatar Michelle
    Ignored
    says:

    Coming in late to the party, but just want to say that this is a wonderful post. It takes all kinds of compromises, big and small, to make a marriage work. You learn as you go. But establishing your own little rituals and traditions helps cement a relationship and create a history together.Report

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