A fiddler on the roof. Sounds crazy, no?
The strength of many schools, churches and community organizations lies in its rituals and traditions. They provide a constancy that is reassuring to students, members, and alumni. While traditions may seem a bit crazy to some, to most they are cherished as part of their heritage. Those who do not honor tradition are likely to incur the wrath of those who want to find comfort and solace in the reassurance that traditions may bring.
When traditions remain constant throughout the years, they begin to bring identity to organizations. The school, recreation program, and community center become known for their special features and regular activities. Identity leads to purpose and purpose leads to dedication and commitment. Maintaining what you have been good at through the years is important to gathering loyalty.
And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you
in one word… Tradition.
Consider the years you went to elementary school or high school. If you should return to those institutions you are likely to ask if they have the same tournaments and games. You may ask about the basketball, football or baseball teams. You may want to know if the school still has the Arts Festival, Chorale and Band concerts. You may be interested in whether the big annual show is still produced, even if you were not actually a part of the shows. These were traditions and you want to know if they are still alive.
Because of our traditions, we’ve kept our balance for many, many years.
Long lasting and enjoyable traditions will find support in parents and alumni. Just as everyone wants to feel that they have a purpose and identity, they also want to see that their schools, parks and community organizations maintain an identity and purpose as well.
While some graduates may always feel that their years, their programs and participation were the best years of a school or organization, they will nonetheless support an organization with their word of mouth praises, and perhaps even their dollars, in order to keep the traditions alive.
Because of our traditions, everyone knows who he is and what God expects him to do.
It is true that some remain a part of their school or recreational program throughout their entire lives. As students become young adults and then parents, they may feel it important to maintain a relationship to those places that were important to them when they were young. They may even wish to send their children to these same schools and programs. That is how strong the bond of tradition can be.
Not long ago, a former community resident passed away at the age of 90. From the time I was a child at the local Boys Club until just a few years ago, this dedicated woman was always at the carnivals, festivals, and fund-raisers of all sorts. It was her passion to be a part of the traditional events each year. The value of her volunteer service cannot be calculated. The importance of the traditions she helped to maintain was something beyond measure, to her and everyone who knew her.
Unfortunately, leadership comes along in the life of some schools and community groups who do not understand the importance of what they have. They set about changing things for no other reason than change. These types of people can quickly tear down what took generations to build. A decade of bad leadership can wipe out a lifetime of good will and dedication.
When I returned to certain alumni events in recent years, I was disheartened to see the lack of concern for the past. It is not that we were better than anyone else, but it is that we had an identity in our long cherished events. For our school, it was the Fine Arts. The Fine Arts meant nothing to recent leaders which was disheartening to many of us.
When you walk the halls of an old and venerable institution, you like to see the pictures, trophies, artwork and sayings of the past. It is discouraging to know that the school song is unimportant, the traditions are gone and the leadership is oblivious to its importance. When someone takes away your tradition and legacy, it is time to move on.
Tradition. Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as… as a fiddler on the roof!