THE SEVENTEEN TRADITIONS

My father taught me about progressive values. Not by sitting me down to explain them, but by living them. He never called himself progressive, and actually thought of himself as conservative, but he had a strong faith in common folks, a populist distrust of big business and autocratic government, a deep belief in economic fairness, and a commitment to the notion of the common good. He summed up his political philosophy one day when he said to me: "Everybody does better when everybody does better."
Jim Hightower's Radio Lowdown
Jim Hightower's Radio Lowdown
THE SEVENTEEN TRADITIONS
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My father taught me about progressive values. Not by sitting me down to explain them, but by living them. He never called himself progressive, and actually thought of himself as conservative, but he had a strong faith in common folks, a populist distrust of big business and autocratic government, a deep belief in economic fairness, and a commitment to the notion of the common good. He summed up his political philosophy one day when he said to me: “Everybody does better when everybody does better.”

I’m floating back to memories of my upbringing because of a little book I’ve just read about family values. Not those heavily-politicized “Family Values” that the right wing has used to try to divide America – but the real thing, the uniting values we learn as children. This book is called The Seventeen Traditions, and it’s written by Ralph Nader.

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Nader has written many powerful books, but I think this little volume of 150 pages is his biggest book. It’s Ralph’s very personal reminiscences and appreciation of growing up in a small Connecticut town as a son of Lebanese immigrants, Nathra and Rose Nader. He says that he’s often asked what forces shaped him, and his short answer is, “I had a lucky choice of parents.”

This book confirms that, offering rich vignettes organized around 17 of the traditions that Ralph gained from his family, including the traditions of the family table, education and argument, simple enjoyments, independent thinking, patriotism, and civics. Nader’s purpose is not to say that these are THE traditions, the only ones of value that everyone should endorse – but that they certainly are worthy ones… and they are meant to inspire all readers to reflect on and connect with the traditions of their own families.

The Seventeen Traditions brings us back to what’s important in life – and what makes America truly great.

“The Seventeen Traditions,” Ralph Nader, 2007

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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