On traditions

I was listening to the radio in the car today and there was this piece about China and its traditions and how people are afraid that traditions are being forgotten. On the average day I would just call it a bull and switched it off. But somehow they managed to catch my attention.

There were a few interviews with diffirent kinds of people about this issue. Old people were saying that they were worried that the younger generations don’t care anymore about the history and customs. Young people interviewed were saying that they indeed didn’t care much and that Western lifestyle and trends suit their interests better. And, of course, there were a few smart people who said that this all is a natural process and that, as always, the combination of old and new is waiting for us in the future. Like in all times.

These, lastly interviewed, people were saying something that is very close to watch I believe. I respect the traditions and the ways of the old. But I just hate it when people try to forcefully push the old ways into the future.

Natural Selection is something very hard to argue with. Especially on the global scale. While thinking about it, I tried to remember good and bad things from previous generations that I knew off.

Consider a couple of examples.

Easter Egg painting. Lots of fun. The process is fun, the result is cool, and the whole atmosphere around it is amazing. My wife and I aren’t particularly religious people, but every year we dye eggs just for the fun of it. I don’t think that many people will forget this tradition very soon. It has something to offer and thus is valuable for the future generations.

Lots of food and alcohol types of celebrations – every culture has a bunch of these (engagements, weddings, child births, funerals, you name it). Each such celebrations is surrounded with a bunch of other customs too, but they don’t stand a chance unless they provide some value (except just being customs).

On the other hand, one of the most quickly deceasing type of tradition is dancing. You know, the kind of dancing our grandfathers used to do. It just seems to go straight into annals of history without anyone giving a damn about it. Together with those rediculous costumes. With the exception of armor suits.

Why is that? Because. Because what value do these traditions provide? Just think about it. Our grandparents were trying to survive producing the best clothes that they could afford. Of course, they had a special piece for special occasions. And they just dance the best way they could (Borat had an excellent parody on this on one of the recent award shows when he was complaining that that Kazakh government dancing group was removed from the stage after a minute of boring dancing, complaining that they still have seven minutes to go). Those times are gone. And those values are gone. And they don’t hold any more value these days. Because we do exactly the same thing. We dress the best we can. We have something special to wear for special occasions. And we dance the best we can. Why should we care about how they used to do the same things years ago? For the same manner as we shouldn’t expect coming generations to care about the way we dress and dance. They will do it in their own way.

Anyway, back to the point – I don’t think that forcing things will do any good. If some tradition seems like a lot of fun to you and you don’t want it gone, than you should probably explain the fun of it to other people. Give them a chance to have the fun too. The only thing you risk is that people might consider you boring, rediculous, and insane. But they probably do so already.

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