Russell M. Middleton - Culture
This site originally published in MICHIGAN in 2002.
Russell M. Middleton
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Culture & Tradition
culture (kul'chür), n. [Fr. < L. cultura < colere; see CULT], the concepts, skills, arts, institutions, etc. of a given people in a given period; civilization.
tradition (trä-dish'un), n. [< OFr. < L. pp. of tradere, to deliver], the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, esp. by word of mouth or by practice
Everybody Has Both!
The USA is a land of immigrants. Current scientific knowledge indicates that all humans in the Western Hemisphere, originally came from somewhere else. It is only a matter of how long they've been there.
One of the consequences of the American Revolution was a break in the continuity of the British tradition. The unintended consequence was the depth and breadth of this break. Maybe, this rift in the continuity of civilization was necessary to insure the survival and growth of this new nation "conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."(Gettysburg Address) But a new tradition was created, to fill the void, the tradition of "leave your culture at the door."
Throughout a significant portion of the history of the United States, immigrants have been encouraged to shed their culture and traditions in many subtle and not so subtle ways. To join " The Melting Pot." The promise that all immigrants can be transformed into Americans, a new alloy forged in a crucible of democracy, freedom and civic responsibility. This process of; assimilation; is viewed as a relentless economic progression. The hard-working new arrivals struggle with a new language and at low-paying jobs in order for their sons and daughters to climb the economic ladder, each generation advancing a rung or more.
Has the loss of culture been offset by the economic gains? The answer of many adults would be a resounding YES. Under capitalism, the opportunities for economic gain are limited mostly by one's own imagination.
But has this move into the middle and upper class been good for the children? I'm not so sure. For many, growing up and joining the working world is a relatively uneventful and successful journey. But for others, the search for a framework to give meaning to the perceived chaos of society and the world, is a profound and lengthy detour.
Children need a connection to history, geography, literature and romance giving them a foundation upon which they can build their own self-esteem and resist the lure of gangs. Knowing who you are in a cultural sense gives you many positive role models to follow. Every cultural or ethnic group has made significant contributions to all of the many human endeavors throughout history.
Let me, Russell M. Middleton, take you on a journey into my traditions.
My intention is to share a little about myself and to inspire you to revel in and/or research your own traditions. See Also.
My mother, Jean Craig Wilson McLeod, was born in 1925, in Kilmarnock , Ayrshire, Scotland (or Scotland ).
Approximate Climatology of Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland
in °F & in.
Climate Data from www.worldclimate.com
between 1851 and 1976
Jan 43 34 56 1 35 4.4 26 Feb 44 34 55 9 34 3.1 23 Mar 47 36 59 16 36 2.8 26 Apr 52 38 75 24 37 2.4 22 May 59 43 81 25 42 2.6 22 Jun 63 48 85 33 48 2.9 22 Jul 66 52 86 38 51 3.7 23 Aug 65 51 88 35 51 4.3 23 Sep 60 47 78 27 48 4.1 24 Oct 54 42 70 19 44 4.6 24 Nov 48 37 59 14 38 4.2 25 Dec 44 35 57 1 36 4.6 26
My great grandfather moved to Ayrshire, in the mid 19th century, from the Isle of Skye. Perhaps around the time of the last clearances on Skye. He was a farmer as was my grandfather until the "Great War" WW1. The '14-'18 was a time of transition from horse power to "horse power" aka. tractors. While in the war my grandfather learned to drive trucks. When he came home to Scotland he became a bus driver, a less strenuous and more lucrative profession than farming.
My grandfather died of a heart attack on the blacked out streets of Kilmarnock in 1942.
My mother flew to Saskatchewan, Canada, in September 1947, with return fair in her pocket she was not a 'war bride', to explorer the possibility of marrying my father. After surviving the Winter of '47 in Saskatchewan they traveled to Michigan, where my grandfather, Guy Middleton, had grown up before homesteading in Western Canada in 1914. My dad asked my mum, "where would you like to live"? My mum said Michigan, it has trees and looks a little more like Ayrshire.
I was born in 1950. Growing up in the '50s and '60s, assimilation was the cultural norm. It wasn't until the late '60s that I went to my first Highland Games at Alma. The Games were fun, but I was looking toward college and my future as an American. I didn't know any Scots other than my family, and they had been too busy making a living as farmers, to teach me much about Scotland's past.
As the bumps and pot holes along life's highway took their toll, (the Vietnam Era, divorced, then widowed) I began to search for strength and guidance in history, my history. Who was I? Where did I come from? Why was I here?
Through my study of Scottish history and culture I've discovered that I am a Highlander. I am bound to the hills and glens of that wee patch of heaven called Scotland in some inexplicable way that only the Celts and Scots seem to understand.
In my branch of the family tree I am the third and last generation of a possible four to serve in the military during a time of war in the 20th century. Sensitized by the post WW II emigration/immigration of my parents, growing up in the Fifties/Sixties America and spiritually bullied by the Vietnam anti-war/warrior movement I took measures in 1979 to insure that there would not be a fourth generation available for canon fodder duty. Yet I am a warrior, warrior or warrior not a very highly regarded spiritual path today, but historically, the source of much wisdom, honor and pride. I am also the third generation in my family to work as a driver, another profession that has lost much of its luster in recent times, in fact Michael H. Belzer, Ph.D. calls trucks "Sweatshops on Wheels".
The Highlander still struggles for cultural acceptance even in 2001.
Skene Dhu or Skene Don't? Knife in Student's Sock Has Holt Up in Arms
The Jeremy Hix Saga
THE PROBLEM OF NATIONALITIES IN USA
"In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then He made school boards." — Mark Twain
Holt student reaches deal with board
Skean Dhu Victory
Zero-Tolerance Policies Teach Disrespect for Law
Is it justice to judge another culture by our own (politically correct) standards?
I find it fascinating that those who espouse multiculturalism have a very narrow window of tolerance for the cultural trappings of others. Under the seductive call of security, bureaucrats, aka "persons of authority," are continuing their historic behavior patterns of protecting us from ourselves. People are being persecuted and prosecuted based on the fears of a few, rather than being judged on their own behavior. Even school administrators, who you'd think would have a fundamental belief in the power of education, drift toward the bullying tactics of petty dictators. Whether through their own laziness, a misguided pursuit of bureaucratic efficiency, or a genuine confusion in understanding the difference between education and indoctrination these "persons of authority" continue to overreact. Then hide behind the worn excuses of "it's the law", "protect the children", or "I was only following orders (the rules)." Phrases I thought were put to rest at Nuremberg.
Winston Churchill called democracy "the worst system (of government) devised by the wit of man, except for all the others." Churchill's wit aside, he is absolutely right. Democratic systems are infuriatingly untidy (unlike autocratic institutions, which can be extremely well-managed).
Education is the ultimate and ultimately the only tool allowable for managing a democratic state. And how will we prepare the next generation for the unknown future exept through education. I mean education for all, not just for the intelligentsia.
It is only when knowledge is distributed as widely and fairly as possible that any sentient species will approach its zenith of adaptability and robustness. For without this strength we humans shall surely follow the dinosaurs in to the archeological record of planet earth.
If safety is the ultimate goal, cloning might be the way to get there. By removing as many variables as possible from humans, we will all act the same, and treat each other like family. But wait....
Over half of all victims know their assailants, 52.4%.
Victim/Offender Relationship All homicides:
Stranger - 14.0%;Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics Homicide trends in the U.S., 1976-99
Related - 19.2%;
Acquainted - 33.2%;
Relationship undetermined - 33.5%.
In light of 11 Sep 2001 see my commentary page.
...................Did the British destroy the highland culture? - Google Search
The Cultural Impact of the Highland Clearances (BBC History) - If the BBC becomes unreachable click here.
White People, Indians, and Highlanders: Tribal People and Colonial Encounters in Scotland and America — Author: Colin G Calloway
White People, Indians, and Highlanders: Tribal People and Colonial Encounters in Scotland and America: Amazon.co.uk
White People, Indians, and Highlanders: Tribal Peoples and Colonial Encounters in Scotland and America - Google Books
A Guide to Scottish Tartans - website.
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