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4y ago


As people, we draw motivation for our whole gamut of activities from a variety of factors. One the worst possible exclusive motivations I can image for an activity is tradition. That's not to say that there are no good traditions, but if we examine a recurring event or practice and find no other reason for doing it than the fact that it's what we've always done, or it's just what those who came before us did, then as far as I'm concerned there's no reason for doing it at all. Even if an appeal to tradition isn't the only reason we have for doing something, but it's the best reason we can come up with for justifying the behavior, I'd say it's time to put that behavior under some pretty heavy scrutiny. I really shouldn't have to explain why tradition is a poor source of motivation or rationale but it seems that I do. Not only do people justify foolish or frivolous activities because they're just things that they've always done, but people will even appeal to tradition in arguments. One of the most topical examples is that of who deserves marriage the rights. There are many people who consider it respectable to advance the argument that homosexuals should be denied the right to marry because providing them with that right would break the tradition of marriage being an institution reserved for heterosexual couples. The argument boils down to stating that we just can't do something that hasn't been done before. Why bother considering a possibility of something past the understanding that what's being proposed might result in some kind of change from what we had before? It's to suggest that having existed before we did entitled our predecessors to know what's best for us, and to have immunity from our criticisms of their policies and practices as they apply to us in our time. It is we who have the benefit of learning from the successes and mistakes of those who preceded us. To discard that benefit by assuming that because things have been as they are for a long time, it is in our best interest to ensure they remain as such, is to spit in the face of progress itself. Every single advancement in every single field throughout the history of civilization itself has been a shattering of tradition, not a preservation of it. Somehow, tradition gets put an unearned of pedestal as if it's something we should strive to maintain. Yet those who insist on being traditional don't refuse the vast majority of services afforded to us by technology that leaves tradition in its wake. Even the Amish, who insist on living as people did eighteenth century, certainly don't live like people did in the stone-age. A right wing southern Baptist will gladly use his iPad to log on to then copy and paste to his Facebook wall a verse of scripture that reinforces his obsolete and ignorant social opinion about how homosexuals are abominations. I guarantee you he won't bother to look it up in a hand-written bible, then re-draft it onto hundreds of letters with a quill pen and send them via pony express or carrier pigeon to all his friends. That would be the traditional way of non-verbally sharing his message. So the next time you encounter someone who insists you do something foolish like deny an entire demographic basic civil equity because that's the traditional way of doing things, offer that person a superior alternative to tradition: progress.