Ritual is missing from modern life. We have routine but ritual is still missing. People have their 9-5 jobs, they take the same route to work everyday but it’s not a ritual. If you drove the route to work everyday and took deep, meditative breaths at every stop sign or red light that would be a ritual.
Rituals are often associated with a community or religion. Rituals have been around for all of human history. They are part of the reason community and religious groups mean so much in the life of members.
Community In Modern Life
A possible reason for the epidemic of anxiety and depression in the modern era is the decrease in membership of religious and community group. People have their friends and family, but often no larger group that gives them a sense of identity. Communities are large or small social units with something in common. Communities often have weekly or monthly events that bring together all the members,
These ritualistic meetings create a cohesion and friendship between members.
Sunday Dinners At My Home
A ritual I engage in is Sunday dinners at my home. Every Sunday I invite family and friends over for dinner. I prepare the food and guests bring the drinks and it’s a lot of fun. Having the dinner on a Sunday serves 2 purposes. Since it’s the same day of the week it creates a ritual, I know no matter what I am doing the rest of the week my Sunday dinner will bring happiness and community into my home. It also makes it easier for the guests. People often have a hard time balancing their schedules and making plans with flaky people. Simply, Sunday evening is always Sunday evening.
Family Dinners Are A Necessity
Having family dinners is an experience I need to thank my parents for. We would have had them everyday if it was possible. During weeknights everyone has a different schedule. One of my siblings of I could have had a sports game or practice, and one of my parents could have been working late. Family dinners on weeknights were not always possible, but we always managed to get together for dinners on weekends.
They were old-school family dinners. No technology allowed, no elbows on the table, no cursing or improper dinner table topics. For most modern families those dinners are impossible. Parents can’t get their kids off their phones and hold a conversation at the dinner table. Thankfully I was raised before cell phones were as universal as they are now.
Keep it Simple (Family + Real Food)
Family dinners aren’t hard to orchestrate and they don’t need to be as strict as my family’s. They should simply have the whole family, no technology, and good food. Family meals help to build strong families. We live in a world where children can feed themselves (microwave, refrigerator, and Uber eats), and the parents can outsource raising the child (daycare, state sponsored or private). In these easier times (aka times of greater economic output) there are many shortcuts we can take in life.
These shortcuts should be kept away from family life. Family life is predicated on love and trust. Love and trust are completely outside the realm of efficiency and technological innovations.
Love and Economics: Why the Laissez-Faire Family Doesn’t Work by Jennifer Roback-Morse (Amazon)