Friday, December 29, 2017



Traditions can be nice but they can also stunt our growth.

A society that doesn’t look critically at its traditions with a view to updating them is in danger of perpetuating misogyny, racism and violence.

What are we teaching our children, and affirming to ourselves when we celebrate an invasion of someone else’s land? Strength, Force, Violence?

Some celebrate The Spanish annihilation of the Incas on Columbus Day. Are we misguidedly honouring an explorer’s venture into New Lands?
New Americans honour their forefathers with Thanksgiving - these same settlers who drove the Native Americans from their lands to reservations (not before a good dose of genocide). Are we admiring Bullying?
The Ottomans conquered Constantinople, and celebrations for this act of murder and theft takes place every year.
What does the above teach our children? That it’s all right to take what is not ours by force?  How different is this from then assuming possession of an item when stolen?  Apparently, the one who dares (and has the cunning) is acclaimed for it. How can we possibly reward this by accepting those who take what is not theirs, especially when history does not denote the possibility of previous ownership?

What of Bastille Day in France? - The ending of tyranny. I’m all for that one. Long may that party continue. It represents the power of the small people. It represents freedom. We should celebrate that.

What of family traditions? In some emancipated countries where women are seen as equal to men, tradition views it differently. During the engagement procedures in Turkey (a western secular democracy) the men and women sit separately. The men discuss if the marriage is acceptable to both parties, whilst the women wait. Once agreed upon the women set to work in the kitchen preparing food for all to enjoy. The bride-to-be must carry a tray of coffee to offer to the men. As this is going on children run around watching and learning where they belong in society: (as a male) the decision maker, (as a female)  the server?

It is certainly time to end tradition linked to superstition. A menstruating girl in Nepal is banished from the household until she stops bleeding. During that time: should she touch a cow, it is believed the animal will stop giving milk. Hard enough dealing with a period without the stigma of ‘unclean’ and ‘blame’ attached. How is that still acceptable in the real world?

How is any of the above (and the many others I have not documented here) still ‘a thing’? It’s up to us to look at each of our traditions, analyze them and decide what they teach our young and if they work towards acceptance and equality for all. Surely, with an update on tradition, the next generation would be kinder. We would not then need to rewire our young, whose mindset we have poisoned by believing our traditions are quaint and harmless.

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