Blue and white pottery is one among many other emblems of the Chinese culture. If we set our foot in a house that belongs to a Chinese family, it is very likely that we would stumble upon these porcelain pieces on the dining table, stored nicely in the display cabinet, or simply put on an open shelf for the world — or the guests — to see.
These ceramics are a prized possession to these families not just because of their historical value, but also because of their classic beauty. The intricate patterns of the blue strokes against a sterling white background are still as alluring as it was back then in the 14th century. If we trace them back to their origin, “cobalt blue” — what the blue patterns on these blue and white pottery were made of — were seen to be twice as precious as gold. And now, we still value these ceramics the same way.
What happens to the things that we value highly? We don’t use it as often, we put it away in some display cabinet for people to admire or be enlightened by it. We put them there because it tells a story of our identity or of our roots. We take good care of it, we protect it, we do not take it for granted. Simply put, we honor the things that we value highly. As a matter of fact, that is what honor is. It is ascribing or putting a high value upon something… or someone.
This season of celebrations and of family gatherings are almost all about traditions. Traditions that might sometimes seem outdated. Part of modern thinking is about constantly moving forward and thinking ahead, so why should we even bother to revisit the past, even just for one public holiday?
Well, because traditions teach us what honor is, and how we can honor the past. Traditions exist to be honored, to teach us how to put value on the lives and sacrifices of the people that got us to where we are today, on the culture that makes us who we are today. They teach us to not take all of this for granted. As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day. And so, why not take a day to give credit to the builders of Rome?
Most importantly, by honoring traditions, we learn that we can never gain the honor of others, unless we place a high value on other people first. Because, the truth is, you are not just any porcelain. You are worth far more than gold, or, in this case, far more than cobalt blue. So, let’s step outside of ourselves for a minute to appreciate and truly honor the world around us.