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Status Quo or Status Go: Does It Really Matter if It's "Traditional"?

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No one is sure about who first claimed: "History is just one damned thing after another." But Henry Ford agreed: "History is bunk."

Not true. In a time like this, we need to know our history to see how much is possible and to be aware of all that’s been accomplished by our predecessors.

History tells us how we came to this place, for better or worse, and whether we're stuck here or not (usually not). And knowing how things have changed inspires hope that other things can too in spite of any current darkness.

But in what sense does history somehow provide us with norms, tell us how things should be, or model what must be done? And are we victims of our past?

Those are questions we need to ask when we hear someone use that loaded word: "tradition." That's because the basic issue is: just because something is labeled traditional, does that make it good, moral, humane, just, caring, or even valuable enough to preserve?

Now, a lot of things could be c…