Great Benefits of Documenting Local History and Culture
We can say that we live in a very important point in time, a period where the internet has allowed the vast majority of the population to access seemingly limitless amounts of information, people to engage in face-to-face conversation with their peers from across the world, and popular culture to be shared and enjoyed on a global level. With the first generations going through their early formative years with a tablet in hand, we are truly at a cultural crossroads where the opportunities seem endless, and the future seems prosperous. It is at this moment, though, that we should ask ourselves this question: "How will our traditions and lessons in morality and ethics keep up with the incredibly fast pace at which our culture is evolving?". Does the old wisdom still apply, and should we be holding on to the past, or should we merely let go and let the currents of change pull us far away to new and exciting shores? I believe that there is a good case to be made for honoring our ancestors by documenting the unique local culture and history of villages, towns, and the stories that can be found in different neighborhoods of large cities. In this article, we will be exploring some of the benefits that can come from documenting local history and culture.
1. It Helps Communities Preserve Their Heritage and Identity
A lot of us view ourselves as citizens of the world, but it is still important to know where we came from. Our heritage is linked to everything from the vocabulary we use, the little rituals and traditions we hold dear, to some of our worldviews, sense of humor and values. Having something to hold onto, something to draw from and find comfort in, is good for our mental health - preserving our heritage makes us feel like we belong, gives us inspiration and guides us. As humans, we need to have that feeling of belonging to a certain community, that unique identity that makes us different.
2. There Are Some Incredible Gems of Wisdom and Artistic Beauty to Be Found in Oral Tradition
You'd be surprised at just how much wisdom you can find in the words of even a simple uneducated working man who has spent a few decades in this chaotic world. When you combine the experiences of a large enough group of people, you'll find incredible stories, wise words to live by, beautiful sentiments put to words while shedding tears of sadness and tears of joy. You will find gems of beauty in the strangest of places, and with oral tradition these rough gems are polished to perfection, and the ones with no real artistic merit or ethical worth are discarded and forgotten. Collecting this art and wisdom is a simple matter of recording a few conversations with some of the older folk in the neighborhood, and having it transcribed. This way, it can be saved for future generations to appreciate and find guidance in.
3. Staying Connected to the past Helps Us Avoid Making the Same Mistakes
What you'll find once you start digging a little deeper in history is that some human traits are incredibly common, and that there is a tendency to make some mistakes over and over. Now, simple knowledge about the pitfalls of a type of behavior does not ensure that no one will ever engage in it again, but it does help keep the majority of people on the right track. There is a lot we can learn from the collective experience of those that came before us, which is contained in local lore.
4. Seeing How Much Sensibilities and Social Norms Have Changed Makes Us Question Our Own Prejudices
It is interesting to see that just a few decades back, the US, which is now generally accepted as a highly-civilized First World country with fairly progressive views, had such things as segregation, prosecution against homosexuals, and gender inequality. Even today, most countries in the world are still far from having a perfect society, and it is important to understand just how arbitrary our prejudices are, and how incredibly powerful and destructive they can be nonetheless.
In the face of a rapidly changing cultural and societal landscape, the best we can do is to keep the connection to our past alive. Not to hold onto the old traditions for dear life, and lament over times long lost, but rather to see the old ways for what they were, learn from them, and keep adding to the wisdom of our ancestors.