Posted in Weave of Traditions

Weave of Traditions topic introduction

The tight weave of traditions that makes a comfortable hammock for some just as surely makes a noose that strangles others.

-Anneli Rufus, Party of One: The Loners’ Manifesto

Weave of Traditions will be yet another blog topic.

A tightly wovn grey fabric.
A tightly wovn grey fabric.

The point being this:

There’s a lot of people who want to standardize everything.  They want everyone to use the same words, with the same meanings, always.  They want people to avoid using the same words, for the same reasons, always.  They want each word, each symbol, each community, to have one meaning, one interpretation.

The world couldn’t work like that even if everyone wanted it to.

The world is a messy place where different words, different symbols, mean different things at different times to different people.

This is okay.  This is how things are supposed to work.

This is part of living in a diverse society, with diverse experiences, diverse cultures, diverse opinions, and that diversity can be a source of immense strength if we let it.

Anyway, I worry about the people who get left behind when the acceptable language changes.  The acceptable concepts change.  Something that was okay to say a year ago is terrible now.  Lots of people can’t keep up.

People react to old traditions that shut them out in many ways.

They create new traditions.

Those new traditions shut new people out, and the people building them can rarely see it.

This kind of problem is inevitable.

How we deal with it is not inevitable.  We can choose how to respond to these situations.

I suspect a lot of this topic will be devoted to the way I, and other people I’ve met, prefer to use language and symbols that other people might use or understand entirely differently.

But it’s a broad topic on purpose, and meant to cover a lot of ground.

One favor I ask of you is that you understand that no matter what I say on these topics, I am saying it in good faith.

Meaning — I am not just mounting a “backlash against political correctness”.  I have no interest in being condescended to by people who think repeating “But words matter” at me willl make my language use th same as their own.  Or being told that if I’d ever been hurt by the words in question, I wouldn’t use them the way I do.

Assume that if I’m talking about this I’m talking about something I’ve known, something I’ve seen, something that’s real.

Assume that if I’m talking about, say, the fact that the endless word lists you’re supposed to memorize is inaccessible to lots of cognitively disabled people, I actually mean what I’m saying.  I’m not just trying to get out of doing what you’re absolutely certain is the only right way to do things.  Cognitively disabled people have been discussing that particular problem, in public, for over a decade now.

I don’t expect anyone to have seen those discussions, but I do expect people to trust that they’ve happened.  And that I’m not just pulling this out of my ass to score points.  And that when I talk about being having people demand I say heterosexist instead of homophobic, my problems with this are something real.

Because none of this is about scoring points, for me.

Here’s what it is about:

  • Recognizing that when we build new traditions, we shut out new groups of people whether we mean to or not.
  • Recognizing that one word or symbol can have many meanings.  And that it’s okay for people to have different relationships to it in different contexts.
  • Recognizing that what is beautiful and perfect and respectful and meaningful to one person may be the exact opposite to someone else.
  • Learning to respect diversity in a much deeper way than you can by trying to make everyone say the same things, not say the same things, think the same things, etc.
  • Understanding that all of this is the way things should be, not something to correct or bludgeon into submission.

And a lot more than that.  But if I try to write about everything that I mean, I’ll never write this post, or the ones that I want to follow it.  So consider this a beginning, not a full summary or an ending.

A tightly woven grey fabrc with the following quote written over it: "The tight weave of traditions that makes a comfortable hamock for some just as surely maks a noose that strangles others." -Anneli Rufus, Party of One: The Loners' Manifesto
A tightly woven grey fabrc with the following quote written over it: “The tight weave of traditions that makes a comfortable hamock for some just as surely maks a noose that strangles others.” -Anneli Rufus, Party of One: The Loners’ Manifesto


Hufflepuff. Came from the redwoods, which tell me who I am and where I belong in the world. I relate to objects as if they are alive, but as things with identities and properties all of their own, not as something human-like. Culturally I'm from a California Okie background. Crochet or otherwise create constantly, write poetry and paint when I can. Proud member of the developmental disability self-advocacy movement. I care a lot more about being a human being than I care about what categories I fit into.

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