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Social Change Discussion

1. Reflect on what you gained from each of the below readings in relation to how changes in traditions impact society and how changes in society impact traditions. Use examples from the readings to support your points.
a. Pericles' Funeral Oration (Thucydides)
b. The Second Fall of Rome (Michael Lind)
c. from Who Put the West in Western Civilization? (Robert Royal)
2. Give specific examples and explain how traditions are good things and in what ways they might be considered negative or detrimental to a society.
3. Explain whether or not it is a good practice to question traditions.
4. Provide examples about some potentially positive and negative social issues that could come from questioning tradition.
5. Pick 1-2 traditions that we have in the U.S. that we share as a collective society; research the history (tradition) behind each tradition and thoroughly explain in your posting.
6. Identify two traditions in US society that you feel we've lost during the last 100 years or so.
7. Explain how and why we've lost these traditions.
8. Discuss whether or not these losses are good or bad for us as a society.

Solution Preview

Dear Student,
In this solution, I aimed to give you a concise guide that explains and at the same time approaches the problem. In instances where I can illustrate global tradition other than American I did so to give you a sense of the difference between traditions of the West and that of a religiously-influenced non-western country. Take note that the questions asked about opinions relating to the issues of society & tradition and for this I did not have much choice but to reflect on my own. By my example however you can expand this idea and relate it to yours. Professors appreciate it when students are able to express relations between concepts and their very own practices and I urge you to do, especially that pertaining to traditions that have become important to you. While I provided solutions for some questions separately, due to their relation I grouped some together: it would give more meaning if the concept that the questions drive at are explained as a whole not only on their own. It will make it much easier to see their relation with each other. I urge you to read part of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and relate the concept there with that of Pericles's Funeral Oration to the Athens dead. You can discuss their relations in class even, to which I think would be of great benefit to you and would be something your professor would appreciate. If you have any questions regarding this solution, please send me a message. While I know that you are aware of what plagiarism means please guard against it. Make citation and referencing a practice. This solution is your guide and has been adapted from the set of articles you have asked help with. You will find the concepts and Ideas I discuss here present in your textbook. Thank you for using Brainmass!

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1. A - Pericles's Funeral Oration (Thucydides)

Pericles was an important Athenian politician at the time of the Peloponnesian war. Thucydides was a philosopher, politician and historian who recorded Pericles's funeral speech. As a historian Thucydides pioneered scientific data gathering & is considered the originator of scientific history. Pericles gave this speech to fellow Athenians at the start of war when all were gathered within the walls of the city for protection. A funeral speech is a traditional Greek practice celebrated annually where the war dead are honoured for their valiance and sacrifice by the living. In his Speech Pericles espouses the Democratic Freedom that Athenians practice and its virtues while establishing that Athenian democracy is tantamount to the survival of Athens as a State and it's identity as such. Pericles's democracy is about 'favouring the many instead of the few', 'equal justice', social equality. Pericles goes on to explore the virtues of life practiced by an Athenian citizen:

"The freedom we enjoy in our government extends to our ordinary life...we do not feel called upon to be angry with our neighbour...Against this fear is our chief safeguard, teaching us to obey the magistrates and the laws...whether they are actually written in a statute on the book or belong to the codes although unwritten cannot be broken...."

Democracy is a political tradition practiced by the Athenians, that one code of governance and co-existence that allowed for them to reach full potential enriching their lives and that of their fellow citizens. They depended on it and therefore held it as a pillar by which all of Athens is made to stand. Athenian democracy allows for man to advance because of their own merit and settles disputes justly. It allows for all to engage their private pursuits under the rule of law making room for innovation and invention. Pericles' democracy is echoed in the ideals and attitudes of modern nations practicing democracy: Justice & freedom for all. Pericles in his speech gave honour to the sacrifice of the dead by glorifying the city & democratic way of life of Athens to which the dead gave their life to defend without question. He ends his speech by reminding all that the responsibility of keeping Athenian democracy is in the hands of those who survived that despite the insurmountable task of defeating a powerfully armed enemy the Athenians have to try and defeat to save their Democratic traditions and their city. The way Pericles approached his speech is reminiscent of the way Abraham Lincoln started his Gettysburg Address. Like Pericles Lincoln praised the American commitment to democracy and the sacrifices that it entailed. And, just like Pericles, Lincoln urged the living to dedicate to the task of democracy by which the dead died for. Perhaps funeral speeches and addresses are by nature a means of remembering what those who are being remembered did for those who survived them. However the similarities between Lincoln's speech and that of Pericles despite gap of centuries ring similarities. Democracy is a tradition worth dying for. I suppose the tradition of Funeral speeches (as an act) in these two similar cases reinforced the importance and value of the tradition of a Democracy and made it all the more meaningful to the society that practice them --- confirming identity, validating beliefs and fostering a sense of nationalism and destiny.

B - The Second Fall of Rome (Michael Lind)

In his essay, Lind traces how Roman history, traditions and beliefs were adapted and glorified into the American culture during the time of the founding fathers and how it later on fell in popularity due to the negative imagery that ideas of Roman Tyranny and violent conquest especially that which was perpetuated by the movement of American Protestantism against the image of the Roman Empire (& by the sense, its predecessor, the Roman Catholic Faith). Slowly, Greek culture came to the fore being attributed as the foremost influence on Western Culture while the positive contributions adapted from the Roman Empire lost prominence. In his essay, Lind reiterates the similarity, indeed the adaptation of a Roman Republic form of governance into the American Republic. The roman values of a strong and powerful government held together in the centre by a leader whose actions are accountable to and supported by a bicameral legislative and senate bodies are adapted, indeed practiced by the Federal government of the American State of today that, though wrapped in the ideals of democratic freedom keeps the country together by a centralization of power adapted from ancient Rome. The Roman act of debating and public orations to address issues, political debates as well as giving speeches is a tradition adapted so well into the American system. While the Greeks indulged each other via lyrical poetry, the Romans were straight to the point and quick to engage in debate. The dirty politicking of Rome did not escape Lind as he drew similarities with the American Politics playing out in Local and national platforms. Was Lind then declaring America, in a sense as the new Rome and perhaps, warning of demise as such? Though I appreciate and at times agree with Lind's analysis I still hold on to the ideal that the might of Rome is not held only in a negative light by historians. Thomas Gibbons for instance talked of its Rise and fall giving notice to the characters that caused the events that made Rome great and vice versa. While Lind can be forgiven for his notions as it is true that Greek tradition, such as that of Democracy, scientific studies, philosophies and classical literature; the truth is Rome itself was heavily influenced by ...

Solution Summary

The solution provides a discussion on the impact of change in society & vice versa by going through selected readings from the work of Thucydides, Michael Lind & Robert Royal. The solution expands the discussion more by going through particular concepts of tradition, culture and social group practices influenced by ethnicity & change.