Yesterday, before I turned it off, I heard a story on NPR about how in Spain, an old tradition is returning: hunting wild boar on horseback with spears. To my mind, something happens when we enact a tradition that is no longer a necessity. We no longer examine the thing itself, and maybe we divorce ourselves from the need that gave rise to the tradition in the first place. We lose something important in the process.
In Hawaii, we had a day when we ate almost exclusively things grown on the island. It was a cool experiment, and it was also devoid of any requirement. If we grew tired of the experiment, we could go to the store. Sometimes I spin wool into yarn and knit things to wear and use. It is for the pure pleasure of it. I could buy basically the same thing for a fraction of what un-spun wool and yarn cost.
I don’t exactly think I’m suggesting that continuing traditional practices are suspect. Obviously, there can be artistry and pleasure involved in many things that are no longer essential, and I happen to think the world is sorely lacking in artistry and pleasure. But I feel stumped by how to honor not only the historical necessity of something but also the fact that it is still a necessity in so many parts of the world. And even if few Americans have to go hunt and gather for our food, more and more of us scrounge for the means to buy our food.
I am wondering how to carry my privilege honorably in a way that does not minimize the struggles of others (and perhaps even lightens their burden a bit). Maybe something on the order of how Native Americans thanked (and likely many still do) the spirits of animals they hunted and killed for food. I am eager for your thoughts about this.