House Ties: On Dress and Education

2 IMG_1215We need school ties.

That seems odd, since any given piece of clothing is not logically necessary for learning and ties, even for grown people, are a fading part of American culture. Yet we need school ties so much that our college and school has one for each house and the school. Our women and men wear them, some proudly and some because that is the customary costume.

This custom is key.

We have laws, rules that cannot be broken without serious harm. Do not put a fork in an electric outlet! Tempting as it is for my liberty loving soul, those cannot be the only rules, because if they are, any experiment in rule breaking in the younglings will result in serious harm. We need manners and we have those as well. Manners are rules that make friendship easier. We do not chew with our mouth full, talk about Taylor Swift in polite company, and other rules of the social road. These are not laws. You might find a culture where picking one’s nose is acceptable (manners), but you should never throw battery acid in the ocean for fun (laws).

We need something more to have a culture: we need customs. Customs are not manners, one can breach them without being rude, and they are never laws, they are not about morality. Instead, customs are pleasant things we do because of our home. They mark us. When I would go to Granny’s house, it was a combination of lemon Pledge, good cooking, and cleanliness. We had good friends who were a mix of cat (not unpleasant cat, just cat), lavender, and electronic ozone smell. Our house? Normal.

A house tie is an out symbol of this inner reality. It is harmless custom that can become deeply meaningful. Some rootless souls made fun of Mitt Romney when he returned home to Michigan during a campaign and noted “the trees are the right height.” He was speaking of this customary way of being.

We have become so individualistic that custom has often died. Nobody tears up at alma mater unless the school has a good football team and one is a fan. This is very sad, because custom is a tie that binds us to each other without possible harm. A few will worship the school tie, make it something it is not, but far fewer than that will be harmed by immorality or rudeness. Custom is the morality of human created meaning: it is fantastic.

We create a little world, doing as Father God taught us, when we make customs. This is why everyday I wear our college and school crest. It is not required, but it is customary and when I see another student or tutor then I feel a bond. When we sing the school song, thank you Tim Bartell and JAC Redford, I choke up, because we are a community.

The tie that binds is nothing to you, and never everything to me, but it is something and it is something we made under God! Blessed be the tie that binds.


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