The Seventeen Traditions


Previously, I posted a brief excerpt from the book. Those who have followed the career of Ralph Nader from consumer advocate to presidential candidate will probably relish much of what is here; it gives clear insight into the political thought of Ralph Nader and by extension the Green Party he nurtured and which in true schismatic fashion rejected him.

I'm not keen on some of Mr. Nader's political thought. I think he has an acute eye for the plight of the weak, except for the weakest among us and then he falls into the trap that all too many seem to accept: compassionate tyranny of the visible.

Now that I've made something of full disclosure, I can say more about the book. I loved it. There is a warmth, a humanity, a passionate and compassionate interest in people and in things that informs the whole books. Above all there is a sense of a strong and loving family, a tightly knit family that allowed for solid structure and complete freedom within the structure. Parent encouraged the children to reasonable disagreement and argumentation on major issues of the day. Ideas were proposed, discussed and debated, and children were asked to think and consider not only their opinions but the consequences of their actions and the effect of their actions on others.

In this autobiographical advice book, Ralph Nader exposes seventeen traditions that informed him as a person and kept his family functioning as a family. These range from "The Tradition of Listening" to "The Tradition of Scarcity" through to "The Tradition of Civics." In each section the involved reader can learn from the experiences of Mr. Nader within his family life and perhaps adapt some of these laudable traditions into his or her own family life.

What I derive from this is a picture of parents that loved and respected their children and their society enough to conscientiously and deliberately raise those children to be thoughtful, considerate, kind, and well-meaning people. They raised children of strong opinions with strong wills to stand behind those opinions and a no-nonsense approach to politics, society, and life. Respect and love, love and respect: these abound in the book, and the warmth that exudes from these moments is considerable, deep, and full of abiding compassion.

In other words, I enjoyed the book, a quick but memorable read and a thought provoking work for any person who is raising a child. While I often disagree with Mr. Nader, I respect him and I respect the thought he has put into his opinions. I think there is a strain of unalloyed idealism that is probably errant--the neo-rousseauian affliction of the modern liberal climate, but sometimes that can be a breath of fresh air. Erroneous, but not any more so that the Calvinist condemnation of humanity that is sometimes the legacy of the cultural right. We are neither nobel savages nor "utterly depraved," but beautiful, broken children of God--capable of tremendous good and horrendous evil--sometimes in the same person.

Highly recommended for all audiences.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on August 23, 2007 8:02 AM.

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