Tuesday, June 07, 2005

How culture and traditions evolve

We try to live in a changed world with an old set of rules. This causes much stress and frustration.

Every society tries to find solutions to problems it faces. But these solutions over time acquire the halo of culture and tradition. They are no longer fit solutions and most people even forget the problems these solutions were designed to solve. Instead, thesearchaic solutions stay on, because "that's what we have always done".

Societies are notoriously slow in evolving solutions, and even slower to let them go. Marriage, for example, is a solution to the problem of " how do we ensure the next generation of humanity is raised well ". In this era of same sex marriages and living together, society is still struggling to modify this solution.

There are two ways to speed up new solutions. One is to go with the solution and one is to go against it. Going against the solution of marriage means patiently challenging it in courts, slowly nibbling it, hoping that one day it will fall, to be hopefully replaced by a more elegant solution.

Another method is not to fight it, but to vigorously campaign for it, exposing its absurdities. For example, a law can be passed mandating marriages by say, the age of 30. Anyone who does not marry cannot vote, is heavily penalised by taxes and becomes a second class citizen. This method focusses attention on the absurdities of the old solution and causes forces to group against it.

So both traditionilists and activists are equally responsible for ensuring that the old solutions wither away, to be replaced by new ones. The real danger is the vast majority of people, who are neither for it nor against it, and by their sheer inertia, prevent fitter solutions from emerging.


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7:19 PM  

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