Today is Remembrance Day – and I probably would not have remembered were it not my daughter’s birthday tomorrow. Apart from the bigger splash in 2019 to mark the 100th anniversary, it appears to be the tradition is losing momentum.
Corporate memory and traditions are both important, and transitory. Important in that they are about the retelling and rehearsing the shared stories that underwrite our values.
Mateship is a core Australian virtue. It flows from our convict history. We do not like to think of ourselves as lesser if we arrived as convicts. As a culture, we are quick to cut down tall poppies. Accurate or otherwise, we corporately imagine the First World War battlefield as a place where mate stood next mate. Bullets do not discriminate; in war social and racial differences count for little.
Corporate memories have a way of allowing our values to be shared, and to unite us. It’s un-Australian to not stand by your mates. Many values are now considered an expression of individual choice, but we need our shared values to create a sense of being one nation. The retelling of our stories reinforces and reminds us of what is important to us.
Except Remembrance Day is dying off. Corporate memories can fade, or be re-interpreted, or change their focus.
Bible reading is in part about the rehearsing of corporate memories. Paul tells Timothy to devote himself to the public reading of scripture. He says this not just because most people could not read. Or that we need to hear in order to learn. We need to re-tell biblical stories because they contain the truths and values that are important to us, and define who we are as a people.
How are you in the habit of understanding and reinforcing your personal story as a sub-set of the extended story of the people of God?
Rev David Rietveld