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Do tradition, history and culture matter?

Discussion in 'Speaker's Corner' started by jsmoke, Aug 16, 2017.

  1. Angilion

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    I don't think Spain was regarded as particularly inherently holy land by Christians. Or most of the land that had either been conquered by or was under threat of conquest from Islamic rulers. Which was pretty much everywhere.

    I think it's inaccurate to split religious dominion from any other kind of dominion, particularly for those religions in those days (and to this day with Islam). Religion, politics, laws and customs are often a package deal and were very much a package deal for both those religions at that time.
     
  2. ttaskmaster

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    And yet they fought to re-establish Christian rule during the Reconquista... and while it later became a holy war and even bled into the Crusades, it was originally just about religious dominance in the area.
    But again, the point is that even Middle Age Spain, which did alright in spite of complex relations in a multi-religious, multi-cultural nationm, people still divided themselves rather than become a universal culture.

    But the point is that groups of otherwise un-united countries chose to sort and divide themselves by religion.
    Further to that, politics, laws and customs are yet more things around which people will divide instead of coming together.
     
  3. Noughtboy

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    This ^^^

    I am an immigrant to this lovely country. It has it's faults but no place is perfect. If it was, it would soon become overcrowded and would no longer be so.

    My children were all born here. The morning after my wife and I became citizens and the kids were "officially British", I told them that we would be singing G-d Save The Queen every morning at breakfast, which they do. All THREE verses. Most of the kids at their school can't even sing one!

    We are all proudly British. The children identify with South Africa in an abstract way because their parents are from there and our family (mostly) is there.

    However, whilst we have "braais" and eat "mielies" and "naartjies" etc, we support England>Britain>South Africa> when it comes to sports. We are a British family with South African roots.

    We do not try and change Britain to more closely resemble South Africa or our traditions. We came to this country over others by choice and by the Queen's grace (well not exactly but you know what I mean.) We were welcomed and have embraced a lot of it's history, festivals and traditions. The food is another matter...we prefer ours with flavour ;).

    Oh, and the political correctness. Drives me nuts although that is not uniquely a British trait. I am all for Diwali and Halloween or Eid or Channukah etc as lovely festivals or traditions but not when for example we cannot send people Christmas cards but rather "Festive season greetings" so as not to offend. In a country that primarily identifies itself as Christian. And I am not even Christian!

    I love this country and often have to remind the "locals" how lucky they are to live here. Perfect? Perhaps not but the good far outweighs the not so good.
     
  4. Meridian

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    You were doing so well until this point - and I say that as an immigrant myself (who never supports England in any sport). But this is nonsense. Pretty much every time the right-wing papers have banged on about this it mostly turns out to be misunderstanding a much more complex issue. For a start, variations of "Season's Greetings" at Christmas long predate the rise of so-called PC: I'm in my fifties and it's been going all my life. It's just a standard expression.


    But back on the original topic, the problem is that "Tradition" and "culture" are a common expressions used by racists just before that say something racist. Both are over-used terms, and over-used ideas. Let's not forget that at times up until the relatively recent past British "traditions" included marital rape, wife-beating, child labour, animal cruelty and boarding school. Current British traditions still include casual vandalism and theft, plus drunken fighting. You will notice that the people who use the terms "Tradition" and "Culture" in arguments tend to either a) not define them, or b) define them very carefully so as to exclude certain target groups.

    They are important, but mostly to teach us right from wrong. And I don't care which traditions teach you that, as long as you learn.
     
  5. Noughtboy

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    Look, don't knock marital rape whilst under the drunken influence of 10 pints of "wife beater" until you try it!

    But seriously, I get what you are saying. Slavery in America. Seppuku in Japan.Pedaristy in Greece etc. I am of course selectively referring to Maypole dancing or chasing the wheel of cheese down the mountain posing as a hill or nettle soup etc. I think the obnoxious "traditions" you refer to above do not fall into what I would term "cultural mainstream".

    I mean you don't need to despise political correctness to know that dog fighting, child labour or binge drinking are abhorrent.
     
  6. Noughtboy

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    Oh, the name is the Coopers Hill Cheese Run in the post above.
     
  7. Meridian

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    Then give me some mainstream British Values. Like, tolerance for example. How's that going post-Brexit vote? Welcoming refugees? Respecting other people's opinions ("Enemies of the people" anyone"?).
     
  8. Noughtboy

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    How about supporting the underdog? Slagging off the England football team? Discussing the weather at great length within 42 seconds of meeting someone? A stiff upper lip.

    I believe the great British public are still very tolerant on the whole and give generously to charitable causes...we help out during disaster relief as opposed to blindly accepting the government's ham fisted efforts.

    Good enough start?
     
  9. Cern

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    Certainly all observably British traits and values, but do they stand up to closer scrutiny?

    Supporting the underdog - for sure, unless it's someone on welfare, then Brits seem happy and complacent to let the government tread these 'scroungers' into the dirt.
    Slagging of the England football team - definitely, it's a universal truth on which all the home nations can agree :)
    Discussing the weather - mostly because Brits are too repressed to talk about much else with strangers ;)
    Stiff upper lip - mostly a myth, not to be confused with being bloody-minded and stubborn after backing ourselves into a corner.
    Tolerance - arguably yes, but we go through phases depending on the economic and political climate. Currently tolerance is showing a marked and worrying decline.
    Charity - yes, but increasingly only if it's at home, as witnessed by the constant calls to cut the foreign aid budget.

    I'll add a few more:

    Humour - even when things get grim, British humour manages to shine a light and is loved the world over.
    Music and literature - every country has their greats, but I think Britain punches above its weight here.
    Fairness - this used to be an important British value, but it's been horribly eroded in the last decade.
    Free speech - under threat, but still a central plank of national identity.
    Eccentricity - Britain produces and celebrates some great eccentrics, oddballs and free thinkers. Long may this continue.
    Diversity - Britain is sadly struggling with this at the moment, however I still think we do better than a lot of countries and should embrace it.
     
  10. Meridian

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    The vast majority of those are common to people the world over, as long as you substitute country X for Britain. But my point was: whenever people compile a list of "British" traits they do so in order to exclude a group of people they have already decided to exclude. Any attempt at deciding what Britishness is is designed to show that group Y do not have what it takes.
     
  11. Cern

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    I don't think anyone is suggesting these are unique traits or values. People are indeed generally the same the world over, for the most part. It's more about differences in emphasis.

    I think it would be very hard to find something uniquely British anymore. Even if there had once been something uniquely British (either good or bad) it was probably spread to the rest of the world via migration or colonialism anyway.
     
  12. sigma

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    Is that true for the majority of the modern world?
     
  13. Cern

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    The modern world is globalised anyway, so it's going to be hard to find distinct and unique values, traits, cultures between countries. Differences in emphasis for sure, but uniqueness not so much. Only a handful of countries exist in a bubble and those that do don't tend to be the sort others look to for guidance or influence (e.g North Korea).
     
  14. RDM

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    The pub is fairly uniquely British. It has a uniquely different character to European bars.

    Food culture is different too, though we are happy to steal ideas from cultures around the world and, like many other western nations, have imported globalised brands.

    The British sense of humour is very self deprecating compared to quite a few other nations.

    Despite the tabloids trying to say otherwise the British Legal system is one of the most respected around the world.

    Though it doesn't seem like it some days, tolerance is also a strong British trait. You just need to look back through history to see us taking in otherwise persecuted groups and giving them safe haven.

    It is very difficult to pin down any one specific thing that is "British" but then the same could be said about pretty much any culture, it is the combination of different traits at different levels that make up the culture of a nation.
     
  15. Meridian

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    It's interesting that you start with a bad thing, and seem to think that it's good? In fact there ARE bars very similar to British pubs in many countries abroad, but British people tend to prefer the other sorts of bars. That's because the sort of foreign bars which resemble British pubs are like The Slaughtered Lamb to a British person. But we are so used to our own pubs that we don't notice how massively intimidating they are to non-locals. British pubs tend to men-only (or women on sufferance, or women as bad as the men) and about two drinks away from a brawl. Hence all the fights in town centres late at night.

    The British legal system is certainly common, but I can't help feeling that most British people thank that it's good because a) it's British, and b) they've never been involved with it. In fact it's a huge incredibly expensive game, where one side tried to prove guilt, the other side tried to muddy the waters, and neither side actually care if the defendant did it or not. My career (OK, life - there's no career) in forensic science has given me a fair show of the British "justice" system in action and I hope I never end up in the dock. That said, I'm not sure the Continental "Inquisitorial" system is any better - I've seen "Engrenages".

    As for tolerance, have you seen these forums? You've been here a fair time now, you must have seen how rare it is here. Met any Brexiteers? How much do they have? And as I said: the mere fact that anyone draws up a list of "British Traits" is usually a short step before showing a massive lack of tolerance.
     
  16. RDM

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    I don't recall making any value judgements on the pub, just stating it's fairly unique nature. You are also generalising quite a bit, there are quite a few pubs which are fairly inviting and aren't two drinks away from a brawl.

    I know several brexiteers that are pretty tolerant people, but then they are educated and decided on voting leave for reasons other than "we don't like them foreign people". I also don't treat OCUK as a mirror of the real world in any way. Without a doubt sometimes "Britishness" is used as a cover for intolerance, but sometimes it isn't.
     
  17. Cern

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    Not sure what part(s) of the country you're referring to? Whilst the picture you paint may be true in some places, there's plenty of pubs which aren't male dominated and/or two drinks away from a brawl.

    Britain does have a big problem with binge drinking of course, but this isn't a male only problem. In fact in the 16-24 age group women are significantly ahead of men when it comes to binge drinking:

    Source: Adult drinking habits in Great Britain: 2005 to 2016
     
  18. Noughtboy

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    Actually a lot of them do. I have no problem supporting pensioners...they have put a lot into the system and of course many of the oldest ones still living took part in the effort to keep the French speaking French and the Windsors being the only Germans to rule over us.

    As for the stiff upper lip, I will concede it could be either or depending on the situation.

    Tolerance is just that...tolerance. It does not imply unlimited patience or understanding.

    Charity via Aid agencies for disaster relief is arguably more popular than pouring money into some despotic regime where 50% or more of the funds are redirected into Swiss bank accounts.

    I think your point on fairness goes hand in hand with a less tolerance owing to "scrounging" , both foreign and domestic. Whether this is from offering a hand and then being expected to give the entire arm in aid. Or NHS health tourists. Or giving up many rights of a sovereign state.

    I don't believe Britain is struggling with diversity. I believe most people embrace different cultures and enjoy an eclectic mix of sights, smells, tastes, experiences etc. Most British people travel around for this (I am not referring to the oxen who go to live in another country and immediately start importing Yorkshire Tea, Worcester Sauce and Jaffa Cakes). It is when you force the local populace to accept foreign things that gets peoples backs up. I say this as an immigrant.

    To use a food analogy, immigrants are supposed to be a spice added into a dish to enhance the total flavour not change it entirely. We arrived here knowing we were coming to a country that shared many things in common with South Africa but of course many things that were done differently. But, it is up to us to adapt to the UK way of life not try and turn the UK into South Africa. For example the property market where you can gazump of gazunder someone is crazy. In law, if I put in an offer and it is accepted, a contract is formed. If either party pulls out, there is a penalty to pay. But, as stupid as the current system is, we learnt to play the game.

    Just my take.
     
  19. DiWa57

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    I think history, culture and traditon matters a lot in everyone's life. It has a strong, irresistible
    impact on each individual - simply, as we all grew up with it, we all got stuck in it, and there is no
    escape as long as you are not aware of it. That does not mean that each individual is a prisoner of culture
    and tradition: real life and so many changes in material life requires some adjustments of what we
    believe and think and of our social and mental standards. As long as we comprehend the power of it
    we will be able to preserve some degree of independece and to free ourselves from rules that doesn't
    fit into our today's life. And that's what we can learn from history: from the very beginning of human
    mankind change has been a constant paramter. Sometime we call it evolution, sometimes revolution.
     
  20. BowdonUK

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    I wonder if this question is asked by any other non-western country.