What Makes Your Family Different?

There’s a term I learned in church world: “cultural distinctive.” It basically means “what makes you different from everybody else,” and it’s a very important thing to understand, for yourself and for any group of which you’re a part.

My family has a few of these distinctives that are notable. We hail from farmers and farmland. We (for much of my life at least) didn’t touch alcohol. And we love the water: sailing, boating, fishing.

Because we consistently (sort of) practice a few distinct things, the Walpole family is different enough from most other families to be notable. That’s kind of the point of a cultural distinctive.

But what if we stopped sailing, started drinking, and started living in the city full-time?

We’d lose some of the things that make “being a Walpole” distinct from “being a Jones” or “being a Green.”

This to me seems to be a pretty good reason to continue the tradition of farming, enjoying the river lands, and teetotalling (besides the fact that these are fun or useful lifestyle choices).

You might say that I am just encouraging conformity to a few arbitrary choices. Maybe so. But on some level, in some way, we are all imitating someone at some time. So why not imitate the people closest to you? In genetics, in relationship, in shared history and experience?

If I veered away and started dropping the “Walpole habits” of my minority group (my family), I’d pretty soon be picking up the general habits of the majority (mass media culture). That’s just a more boring form of conformity.

No, I think I’ll keep the good things about being a Walpole (and drop the bad). We are still forming our cultural distinctives over here, but they’re proven to make us different, hold us together, and make life interesting.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

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