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Oral Tradition - Commentary
Sysliene T. -
3 / 16 / 2002

The Problem with Paper

Oral tradition is not laziness. IMHO, it is that, in some ways, telling information orally is more likely to keep it alive. For example, there was in the year 2000 a rash of time capsules. People everywhere seem to be putting up time capsules. I saw one being done on TV, and they had deliberately involved a dozen children in the process, so that it would not be forgotten. The thinking being, is that written things get lost, or destroyed, usually people don't. (We won't go into the Holocaust.) You have witnesses at weddings, so that someone can say "Yeah. I was there and I saw it done." Because the license can get lost, buildings can burn down.

My father does not have a birth certificate even though he was born in a hospital, in one of the largest cities in the world. The building was burned that held those records. His mother lost her copy. However, one of his family remembered being at his baptism, and said that, "There should be a record there at the church." Because of the tradition of witnesses and oral tradition (she remembered because it was a cathedral) my father got his documentation.

Now, I will admit that oral tradition is not exactly the most accurate. (Especially in this country.) But it does have a place in the order of things.

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