Jacob L. Moreno introduced the phrase cultural conserve to describe anything that has the effect of preserving valuable cultural memories, such as skills, discoveries, concepts, or moral values. Culture is conserved by culture carriers, that is, those who carry something forward from one generation to the next.
One way culture is conserved is tradition. Tradition is acknowledging that I have a history. Tradition is acknowledging that for hundreds and hundreds of years before I existed, people existed before me. Those people, like me, wanted to flourish and to a large degree wanted to promote human flourishing.
To promote human flourishing they created customs and beliefs, created or accumulated tools, and bought and maintained property. Some of these things were woven into tradition as a remembrance of something good or noble. Some of these things were woven into tradition as a warning or reminder that some things are bad. These traditions are what make my most intimate community. It is the songs we sing, the dances we dance, the food we eat, and the way we support and care for one another.
To break with tradition is a contemplative act. To some extent, I have to say to myself and others that I have figured something out or been enlightened in some way that they were not. Rather than an act of hubris, breaking with tradition is an act of humility. It is saying to the many that came before me that I somehow got it more right than they did.
But for there to be a place for tradition, culture carriers have to do just that. Culture carriers have to meaningfully examine which parts of the culture, which traditions, they will carry forward into the next generation. To refuse to carry forward no culture is to unhinge from the generations upon generations that did carry forward their part for human flourishing. It is choosing unnecessary suffering and death for this generation.
There is a place for tradition. To choose tradition does not mean that we have to keep the bad along with the good. We can choose to carry forward the tradition that promotes human flourishing and leave the rest to history.
A regretitation is an apology concretized into a physical action or item. It is a concretized restorative action.
If someone harms another by running over their mailbox, a regretitation may be showing up the next day to restore their mailbox. A regretitation may be showing up with a new mailbox altogether. Or both.
Regretitation is a restorative leadership practice.
A person is made up of three parts. The mind, the heart, and the body. The mind represents thinking which is unseen. The heart in the body represents the affections that are unseen. The body represents the appetites that are unseen.
A life mastered by the appetites ends in morbid obesity, addiction, incarceration, and loneliness. This is not a good life.
A life mastered by thinking seems right but — in the end — is foolish.
A good life is aligning thinking and appetites to serve the affections.
Recently, I changed my primary care physician because my doctor announced his retirement. When I went for my first appointment, a smiley young man in the front office handed me a clipboard full of documents and asked me to fill them out and sign.
The fact that they were not readily available makes me think that a lot of people aren’t asking for them. That most people sign off stating they have read the policies when they have never had a copy of them to read.
When I went to the dentist, she had a fully electronic system (no clipboard). Her smiley person at the front desk asked me to sign on a fancy electronic box to affirm that I had read her policies and agreed to them. Problem was, I hadn’t. When I did ask for them they were promptly printed and handed to me. When I sat down to read them the smiley person at the front desk said, “you’re gonna read those?” somewhat incredulously.
Then when I went to get a vaccine, same experience – except this time I was signing off on manufacturer disclosures and known side effects.
Hey doctors! Stop asking me to lie.
At best, it is an unethical practice to ask patients to affirm that they have read something that you have not given them to read. I suspect that in cases of financial disputes, you are also asking your staff to lie. When a patient says they never saw your financial policy in response to not paying your bill, isn’t your smiley person at the front desk going to say, “Well I gave it to them and they signed off on it.” Beyond an unethical practice, this seems like it might be crossing over into an illegal practice as well. Fraudulent inducement perhaps?
Wouldn’t the best practice simply be to give every patient a copy of every policy that applies to them BEFORE you ask them to sign off on it? For most people, you could email it before their office visit so that they can read it early and not have to suffer the incredulity of your smiley office staff when they read it in the office.
Wouldn’t the best practice be to stop asking your patients to lie?
In the 2006 movie The Ultimate Gift, which is based on a best selling novel by Jim Stovall, a deceased grandfather (played by James Garner) posthumously presents his grandson with a series of tests designed to develop or test the grandson’s character.
One of the tests is a check for $100 million that the grandson has to spend on others.
Immediately, in my mind I started dividing up how the money could best be spent. A few million here would make a difference, another few million there.
The grandson got on the other side of the money. Rather than looking at it as an amount to spend, he saw it as an amount to leverage and invest. He put together a plan to build a $350 million dollar hospital that included housing so that families of sick children could live at the hospital and keep their family together. By investing the $100 million he had control over, he was able to convince other investors to invest hundreds of millions of additional dollars.
Also, at the end of my dividing up and spending the $100 million the money would have been spent and gone forever. It would have done some good, but it would have been unsustainable.
The grandson’s plan actually became revenue generating to the extent that families could afford, health insurance would pay, and so on. His plan was sustainable and would most likely outlive its original investment and investors.
It was just a movie, the money wasn’t real, but I discovered that when I think about money, my thinking is on the wrong side of $100 million.