On Lore: Creation and Discovery

In the past couple of weeks I have been thinking about Lore and Tradition and the ways in which it ties a society or family together. Specifically I have been thinking about the Lore that is being lost and that I am trying to preserve and pass on to my own children and to others in my community.

S and I had a long conversation about this last week (and I’ll try to get him to guest post or at least comment about this as he has a different viewpoint and analysis than I do which I found helpful). We were discussing the development of Lore and the ways that things move from being a story or a piece of knowledge to Tradition, Lore and (at least in some cases) Legend. In most instances this is a slow process that may take a generation or more but in others it happens very quickly.  For instance the story of George Washington and the Cherry Tree passed into Lore and Legend almost immediately and was certainly widespread Lore during Washington’s own lifetime. This is fairly unusual though.

In reality most of the things that we do or teach that are not Lore when we do or teach them. They will not become Lore until they are passed down by our children to their children. So if that is the test, how do we decide which things are worth either emphasizing or creating in order to have them passed down to our grandchildren?

First the Lore we create must be true to our fundamental beliefs. We can’t teach our children to be non-violent if we don’t actually believe in non-violence. What resonated in our hearts must resonate in theirs if they are going to want to remember it and pass it down the line.

Secondly when we pass the Lore to our children we must be careful not to give them too much at once. I have a real problem with this; I can always think of about 15 cool things to teach about any given subject, BUT if I teach all of those at once, nothing is actually retained.

Instead we need to build each year on the Lore of the previous year. Here’s a good example of the development of family lore.

S’s parents anniversary is around Christmas time and so one of the family traditions has become the telling of the story of their meeting, falling in love and first days together. The story has changed as the children grew with some details being left out when they were younger and added in later. By this point the youngest child is in her early twenties and they all know and can tell “The Story of Papa and Mama” That story has shaped their lives. It and what they have seen of their parents’ relationship over the years has formed the children’s understanding of love and commitment. They still use it as a referent in judging their own relationships even though they don’t all share the same religious and philosophical underpinnings as their parents. Now they tell it (or ask their parents to tell it) to the next generation- Family Lore.

How then do we create Lore? Mindfully and with a long term perspective. Lore is not just for today it is also for generations to come.

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