Do you ever find yourself tapping your food on the floor or shaking your leg? Is the person next to you clicking their pin over and over again? Why do we do these things. To simply chalk it up to being a “nervous tick” is not really an answer. Where is the nervous energy coming from and why is that the way we are choosing to expend it? There are so many actions that we repeat time and again that we don’t really know why.
Sometimes it a part of our routine like brushing our teeth twice a day, but why not once, why not three times a day? There are many things we repeat for irrational reasons and there are many we repeat for rational reasons as well. But what significance do these things really mean to us? For a while American students recited the Pledge Of Allegiance before each school day began, and now we don’t. Does this mean that our country is less patriotic or united?
For those of us that engage in exercise we know that repetition is a great part of acquiring muscle memory and for some reason that is a good thing. We know that having good form is a positive but we are not always clear on why exactly one form is “good” and why another is “bad”, and still we practice it.
Just beside ritual is tradition. Hazing is a tradition in the military and in the greek fraternity system but that doesn’t mean that all traditions are good ones. It can be tricky when we come to analyze cultural or religious traditions that are long held but may not be relevant to modern circumstance. What then, do we modify the tradition, or maintain it for the sake of history?
This conversation is not just a matter of individual repetition but in humanity as well. Is there any truth the old adage that history repeats itself or are we simply noticing patterns that fulfill that ideal for us? But since we are on the topic of patterns, how are they useful and when are they harmful.
Recognizing patterns in our own behavior can keep us from making the same mistakes time and again. Pattern recognition applied incorrectly can lead us to improper prejudice and profiling of members of certain social groups.
For all this we only have one month, but we will make an ernest attempt to traverse this topic with as much breadth and depth as possible.