Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Is Tradition Really So Bad?

I suppose a story like the one I'm going to share (and my position on it) will seem odd for an American. After all, we are getting ready to celebrate Independence Day tomorrow—the anniversary of the day we declared independence from Britain and the end of monarchy on our shores. But with my Welsh extraction, I've always been drawn to British history and can't help having a fondness for the mother country and its dogged determination to hold to tradition.

What am I talking about? Well, for starters, check out this little story in the London Telegraph. It appears that a bit of unpleasantness has broken out over the Queen updating rank in the royal household, and who is supposed to curtsey to whom and when.

Stuff like this drives anti-monarchists and many Americans nuts. You know the usual drill—the monarchy is an anachronism . . . the British royals are supposed to be unsavory in many respects despite the personal integrity of a member or two here and there through English history . . . as an American, you of all people ought not to have sympathy for bending the knee to a king or queen . . . yada yada yada and so on.

That really isn't my angle with this. What is tending to upset me more and more as time goes on is the number of people who are so eager to be iconoclastic. It doesn't have to involve royal families. It can touch any tradition, faith, practice. It can touch anything older than yesterday. The attitude is, whatever smacks of tradition, nobility, time-honored observance, etc. is to be trashed and discarded.

As I get older, I have less and less sympathy with that kind of attitude. Yes, maybe curtseying seems antiquated and old-fashioned. Yes, the royals are human beings who will stand before the Ultimate Monarch, the Lord God, just as we all will stand. But it's tradition and respect. Tradition that goes back 1,000 years or more. Rather than the person beneath the Crown (and by all accounts, the Queen herself is a very good, honorable woman despite the behavior of some of her offspring), it's more what the Crown symbolizes. Stability, authority, and a code of courteous behavior.

In this rather surly, rude, obnoxious, bombastic culture, perhaps a little more tradition is what we need. I plan on celebrating American independence with my fellow patriotic countrymen. But I will also tip my hat to the mother country—our British cousins, along with a nod of respect to Her Majesty as a gesture of friendship.

As an aside, I think Elizabeth II would do a much better job of running the government than our current Commander in Chief. That would no doubt incense him, but he's got it coming. He's made a royal mess.

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