Saturday, 5 August 2017

The tyranny of tradition.

We, human beings, have an enormous knack for making things. We are the great grand inventors of some of the most marvelous wonders of the present times. We are such great creators, that at times we take immense pride in that very trait being the harbinger of our superiority. Surely, given how much we have accomplished in the last handful of decades itself, heralds a lot of mirth. However, there is something that we do even better than we are in making things. And that, folks, is making up things! While the things we make do consume a lot of our time and dictate most of our lives, it's the things we make up, that make up for the idyll. 

Money, God, law; they're all mercenaries of the bounty that we have come to gift ourselves. As grand as these concepts may sound, having deloused us out of our disheveled unorganized past to our glorious institutionalized present, these are no better than mere ponzi schemes. Throughout our lives we fight for triviality. We need everything to be linked to something material. If we give a small service, we need money. If we sense any trouble, we need legal indemnity. All the time, all the while, we are looking for a solution that culminates into something tangible in the form of money, or a legal writ, or a verse from the holy books for that matter. But so naive are we, that we don't know that the final quest of these tangible elements, inevitably ends in one of the many made up elements. The one I want to twaddle about today, is tradition.



Tradition is a very ribald vice. It's inherently baseless, but is often concomitant with other baseless entities like God or maybe the institution of marriage. Tradition, unlike other intangible imaginations of mankind, is under a level of protection. In that sense, tradition will only be questioned, after the first layer is questioned. For instance, the concept of voting, which is a tradition in a democracy, would only be questioned after the ideology which this democracy follows, would be put to question. People will always attack the upper and the much stronger layer, encapsulated within which are the much more feeble seeds of tradition. There is a reason why traditions have come to assume this sanctimonious status. 

Ever since we're born, we're enshrined with the facets and applications of traditions. Long before we become capable enough of knowing what god or money is, we are asked to respect and venerate both, and we see everyone around us doing the same. As a result, vicissitudes of tradition, soon transform into various learned behaviors. Later on, courtesy of these learned behaviors, we develop an incessant meretricious craving for making the traditions thrive and prevail. During the course of our lifetimes, some traditions do succumb to the winds of change, but the basic element remains the same. And thus, without even once being questioned, traditions keep going on. In certain rare cases a society may decide to abnegate the outer shell - the larger phenomenon, but traditions are by and large protected because they are much more a part of our subconscious psyche, than they are of our conscious belief. 

Now you must be wondering what's wrong with traditions. Well, the thing that's wrong is that traditions get stronger with time, if they are followed, and their outcomes are never questioned. One very interesting thing to note is that traditions are much more fragile than the belief or the concept that covers them. The very simple reason for that is traditions are dependent on a human agent carrying them out. The Mayan traditions ceased, but the Mayan religion can still be found in their books and architectural edifices. Traditions are weak, because they need actions or they need to be imparted through instruction pleonasms. However, traditions, as long as they exist, courtesy of being ubiquitous, reign supreme over everything else, and thrive. So one day when the world blows up, we'd realize we were following the wrong traditions. But till then, as long as the tradition is being practiced, it continues to live.

One very quirky thing is that from the perspective of the outsiders, traditions are often questioned. However, just like questions on the outer phenomenon, questions on traditions too are dodged. The nemesis of tradition can only come once and there can be no resurrection because traditions, once they cease to exist, either because the humans who kept them alive were wiped off, or because they became a minority largely by the virtue of those traditions, are completely gone. Traditions can never be brought back because once the commoners do realize how vile and full of turpitude they were, they're more than willing to disparage and abjure them. The outer cover, say religion for instance, on the other hand remains strong enough to be passed on despite the foibles, because it has been questioned or tested before as well, and it doesn't need mere humans to keep it alive. 

The above makes traditions both preposterous and jeopardizing. We do know that some tradition is wrong but so deeply ingrained within us are the seeds of fortitude to keep them alive, that we are willing to sacrifice any questioning or beseeching of morality on the altar of conscience, just to keep the tradition alive, because we were simply told to! Consider this. A woman from a sect or a community, who has seen since her childhood members getting married within the community as a tradition. Now even if she grows up to fall in love with someone from outside her community, and even if she has seen many members of her community in the past not deriving any happiness from their marriages because they followed this tradition, she will still go on and do that, because she has been programmed to keep the tradition alive!

Tradition is like a ticking time bomb. It may be woefully wrong since the beginning, but it is considered both mordant and even contumacious to question the same. It, by the very virtue of it prevailing, is given a holier than thou status, and being put at a pedestal beyond all approach of being inundated with questions. Amid the large menagerie that our societies have become, traditions continue to keep us in the dark, and to give us that panacea, which is just a placebo otherwise. Traditions give us this belief that we are larger than just our corporeal composition, and just to cajole ourselves in acceding to that, we let traditions dictate everything, right till them time they destroy us, and destroy themselves in the process. Such is the tyranny of tradition.