Friday, May 12, 2006
I Hate Tradition
Sure I do.
I hate the idea that a set of behaviours can become so fossilized and embedded in a culture that people blindly follow its dictates without even examining why they do it. Nothing should be sacred -- nothing. Any tradition, be it sacred or secular, should be regularly hauled out and examined in the harsh light of day. Does it have meaning in today's society? Does it have meaning to you personally? Does it serve any useful function?
But I find that people love their traditions. It makes them feel part of a group, part of something larger than themselves. People love to give up their individuality and follow the dictates of others. It's easier that way. Turn off your brain and follow the charismatic leader who promises you that everything will be all right if you just do what he says and give him all your money. It's that old herd instinct, from a time when we huddled in trees and feared the unknown predators that lurked in the dark.
I've rapped with Christians and Jews and Muslims in the past, and they often loudly proclaim that they're doing such and such for such and such holiday, or festival, or observance. And I ask them why? And they say because it's part of their beliefs, and I say why?, and they say that's how they've been taught, and I say why?, and they say that's just how its always been done, and I say why?, and they get mad and tell me to shut up.
Now, I'll go one step further, and say that of course people should be able to follow traditions, and enjoy the richness that comes from being part of a large collective, but at least know why you're doing it. Gather some knowledge, do some research, be an informed human being, and stand tall and proud with the knowledge that you're acting because you choose to act, not because some parent or school or government or church leader learned you that that's how it should be done.