When I was growing up, listening to reel-to-reel recordings of the many albums my parents had accumulated, one of my favorites was Fiddler on the Roof. It was catchy, etc.

It wasn’t until many, many years later, seeing the movie version, that I came to appreciate exactly what a poisonous and subversive work it was, cloaked in a pleasant and even “happy – ending” coating. If for some reason you haven’t seen it, and care, there are spoilers coming.

The story opens with a paean to tradition, and how everyone knows where to fit in, and that life, as a result, is happy. But changes are coming, and they portend ill. Tevye wants to be wealthy, but cannot have it, oppressed by the constant progroms of the Russians. His daughters want men who are tall, competent, rich, and handsome, and coming from a poor background, and as the matchmaker explains, won’t be having any of that. One gets apprenticed to the butcher, but she’s in love with the tailor.

And so, we introduce tradition, how it gets in the way of self- actualization, and then the story proceeds to murder the traditions.

The central theme of the story is that change is coming (and as assumed recently in Obama’s speeches, change is always good. of course, getting a head chopped off is change…), and one must adapt. There is a kernel of truth there, of course. Over the course of the story, despite having promised his daughter in marriage, Tevye uses superstition and religious belief to fool his wife into thinking if the marriage goes through (to an admittedly good man) their daughter will be cursed. Arranged marriages are replaced by “love”. One of the boys the girls want to marry is alluded to be, but obviously involved in the communist revolution. There is a wedding, and a progrom, and they must leave, for the states.

One can argue about the pros and cons of arranged marriages, but the point here is this – despite the professed pride in their traditions, nearly every one of said traditions is thrown under the bus. Tradition is left dead in the dust of their streets, with the implication that nearly every painful change results in a better overall, often material, good.

We know the fruits of most of those changes now. Especially the communist revolution. Once you’ve taken the red pill, you cannot unsee these things.