Traditionally Speaking

Okay, the title is a bit of a play on words. This is not about how you, me, or anyone else speaks. Instead, it is a bit of musing over the impact the coronavirus crisis may have on time-honored traditions, and how that impact may change the country.

For instance, do you remember when people talked about their Sunday best? More importantly, do you remember when people wore their Sunday best to church? If you do, you are part of a rapidly disappearing age group. In a few decades, if not sooner, no one alive will be able to answer those questions with a yes. In some ways, that may be sad, but in others, it is merely a sign of progress and social evolution.

Cultures change and evolve over time. In most cases, those changes take generations. For instance, what someone should wear to church has been debated or discussed since biblical times. In more modern times, but still for several centuries, dressing appropriately for church services was a matter of pride, stature and respect.

In the last few decades, things changed. How someone dressed for a church service became less important to many churchgoers, resulting in church services attended by many who might have just walked in off the golf course. Historically speaking, this shift took place in the blink of an eye.

With the preceding as the backdrop, let’s look at what may be happening today.  We are in the middle of cultural and societal evolution that may destroy centuries of traditions and practices. The top doctor in the United States and others are saying Americans, and others, should no longer shake hands for fear of the next virus pandemic. It is possible handshakes will become a thing of the past. Instead, we are being encouraged to find other forms of greeting or showing respect.

Only time will tell if the handshake becomes extinct. Handshake aside, other practices will undoubtedly begin to change as well. If one cannot shake hands, hugs are certainly out of the question. Then there is the meme to the left I posted jokingly the other day.

Many suspect or expect the wearing of protective masks will become common. As a retired police officer, that makes me a bit nervous. If I were a convenience store clerk working nights, it would scare the you know what out of me.

I’ll have more to say about the other forms of greeting later, but the idea that all future relationships with friends, acquaintances, coworkers, and strangers are changing is staggering. Not only are they changing, but they are changing in a few months, instead of years or decades. Happily, I will not be around when the full impact of these changes are felt.

I will leave it up to future generations to deal with the changes that may arise from the coronavirus response. Sadly, humans are called sheep in the Bible for a reason. We are followers, for the most part. Future generations, even my grandchildren, may look at handshaking, pats on the back, kisses on the cheek, or hugs in the same way many today think of such things as eight-track cartridges, cassette tapes, and your Sunday best. Ancient history.   

[i] In writing this piece, I discovered something I never knew or had forgotten. The Wright brothers are given credit for the first heavier than air powered, piloted flight, but another man claimed to have flown two years before they did. As with everything else in the world today, the “experts” are divided on who actually piloted the first airplane.

© – 2020

About S. Eric Jackson

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2 Responses to Traditionally Speaking

  1. Pingback: Traditionally Speaking: Of Kneeling and Protests | An Old Cop's Place

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