Crossing the Line

Fiddler on the Roof is my favorite musical. It will always hold a special place in my heart.

Fiddler is about crossing the line. In the musical, it’s referred to as “Tradition”. Tradition is what helps the little community of Anatevka survive. They cook, clean, sew, barter, and live life in a certain way. Why? As Tevye will freely admit, “I don’t know.” It’s tradition.

But in the musical, Tevye must consider this traditional line. As the father of five daughters, one by one the three eldest want to marry, and one by one Tevye must consider the line of tradition. How far is he willing to go? Will he step over the line? One of the most powerful scenes of any movie is the scene where his third daughter, Chava is begging him to acknowledge her marriage outside of the faith. Tevye reasons back and forth with himself, using the phrase, “…on the other hand…”

He crossed the line with his two eldest daughters. He broke from tradition. But this is too much. This line he cannot cross. The music swells and he turns his back on his daughter while shouting, “NO! There is no other hand.”

And yet at the end of the movie, we receive a hint that Tevye is willing to cross even this line for the love of his daughter.

There are a lot of lines that shouldn’t be crossed. These lines allow us to work and live in peace. But every once in a while we realize society has created a line in the sand that exists only because of tradition. As society matures, we come to understand that some lines shouldn’t exist.

Sattelite, by Rise Against, is a favorite song of late. One line states, “You have to cross the line just to remember where it lays.”

I think I’d modify that sentiment just a little. But first I want to show you one of my favorite Normal Rockwell paintings.

So here is my final thought:

Sometimes we must cross the line; not to rebel, or to make a point, but to determine for ourselves if the line should even exist in the first place.

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12 Responses to Crossing the Line

  1. Carole says:

    Marion, you are amazing. This is beautiful and really touches my heart and soul.

  2. Julie Wright says:

    i love that painting as well. also love the movie. From the experience of one who has crossed a great many lines, this is a great post.

  3. L.T. Elliot says:

    That painting is so beautiful to me. I am grateful for line-crossers, grateful for boldness, grateful for your poignant thoughts. You have a profound soul, Marion.

  4. Krista says:

    This is so very, very good. Thank you for directing my thoughts a little deeper.

  5. Alissa says:

    I love the musical, never heard of the song, and love the painting. While I think there are many things that shouldn’t be done just because “tradition” tells us to, I also don’t think we need to cross lines to know if we should. I think that sets a dangerous precedent. I don’t know what in particular has instigated this post, and I may even agree with you, but it’s irresponsible to tell people to cross lines when there are lines that shouldn’t be crossed. I’m going to use an obvious example to make my point: murder. There is no way you’re telling people that they should try that out just to see if it should be there. I know there are many not-so-black-and-white issues, but if you have a particular issue with something, go there. Take a stand. But to tell people unequivocally that they should cross lines…well, I think that’s the wrong approach. I thank you for trying to get people to think about why they do the things they do and decided whether or not they are worth doing. That is a worthy message and well-written. Just be careful. Generalizing something can change its meaning and your intention.

  6. Tyrean says:

    This is a powerful, and thought-provoking post. Thank you. I love your words, the painting, and your thoughts.

  7. Shelly Brown says:

    Many lines only exist because others tell us they do.
    I hate having to live within the frivolous lines that others set for me.
    I feel perfectly capable of setting sound boundaries for myself according to my own conscience.
    I love, ‘on the other hand’, discussing lines. I love it when others can help me see into my own ignorance and short sightedness.

  8. Jon says:

    It’s been a while since I’ve read your blog so this post is coming in quite a bit after you’ve written this post. Should we ask ourselves this question: “Are there other ways we can learn enough about those consequences without having to cross the line and experience it for ourselves through potentially very dire consequences?” Your response in return may be, ‘Well isn’t it different for everyone? Won’t you need to cross the line yourself to KNOW for yourself?’

    The answer I feel is truly different for many people. I think children are an excellent example of teaching us about the lines that sometimes need to be experienced to learn, and of some lines that we can learn even more about by NOT crossing them. In the end, my opinion is similar to that of Alissa who commented earlier. There is a danger in generalizing this thought process, because for example crossing the line to learn how hot fire really is by reaching out and touching it can consequently hinder your learning process of how hot fire REALLY is. To me this is definitely an example of something that is commonly understood as a ‘one size fits all’ ideology and is in reality the opposite. But that’s just me… ;-)

  9. spanish fly says:

    Hi there! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my new iphone 4!
    Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and
    look forward to all your posts! Keep up the superb work!

  10. An outstanding share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a friend who had been conducting a little research on this.
    And he actually bought me dinner because I discovered it for him…
    lol. So let me reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah,
    thanx for spending some time to discuss this matter here on your blog.

  11. RE:Crossing the Line | The Open Author Валок Lemken Тимашевск

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