Community: Ritual

Ritual in a community includes parades, holidays, and customs which bind the community together. The rituals of a community help to create a shared identity. Some examples might include the Fourth of July or Christmas. While the entire nation (which is a community) celebrates the Fourth of July we can see the identity of smaller communities in the way they celebrate this national holiday. Some might have a parade while others have fireworks. There may be memorial breakfasts or inspirational speakers.

These rituals help to define the way we see and portray ourselves. They help to give expression to our shared values. This is a useful way of helping newcomers become a part of the shared identity. It is also a useful way to participate and add their unique perspective to the existing community.

I wrote this last week as part of my community series – this morning I found this post about ritual.

No national or cultural identity can survive without ritual, even if the group remains in its own country.

Americans knew this until the era of anti-wisdom was ushered in by the baby boomer generation in the 1960s and ’70s. We always had national holidays that celebrated something meaningful.

. . . Congress made a particularly foolish decision to abolish the two greatest presidents’ birthdays as national holidays and substituted the meaningless Presidents Day. Beyond having a three-day weekend and department store sales, the day means nothing.

Columbus Day is . . . not politically correct.

Christmas has become less nationally meaningful as exemplified by the substitution of “Happy Holidays” for “Merry Christmas.”

Memorial Day . . . fewer and fewer Americans visit military cemeteries just as fewer communities have Memorial Day festivities.

(It also has some nice stuff for my post tomorrow.)

About David

David is the father of 8 extremely organized children (4 girls / 4 boys) who is constantly seeking answers to tough questions related to parenting, education and politics while moonlighting for 40 hours each week as a technology professional. He also enjoys cooking, gardening, and sports.

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2 Responses to Community: Ritual

  1. Reach Upward says:

    I think you might enjoy reading this article about Bruce Cole, the chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Cole says that American history is essential. It cannot be simply a matter of taste.

    In telling the story of Reagan’s parting words as president, Cole says, “He said this country comes from well-informed patriotism; it’s that love of country, that love of place, that’s necessary for any country’s survival. You can call them myths if you want, but unless we have them, we don’t have anything.”

    And that is why this is important.

  2. David says:

    Thanks for that link. It sounds like something I would really enjoy.

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