Traditions and culture says that the old ways are good. We must stick to it.
In some ways it is beneficial. It gives us good feelings (nostalgia). It also gives us a sort of self-identity and belonging. That’s why people say:
‘I’m from India, the home of the vast heritage.’
‘I’m from Greece, the birthplace of knowledge’
‘I’m from China, our heritage goes back to 5000 years into the history’
The correct course of action, the right way of dressing, the right way of greeting, the right way of writing is the traditional way. A person who does not follow the traditions and culture is said to be misguided. That’s what they believe. One should not question and one should not change. That’s the way to live.
In return, what you will get?
The feeling of being part of a group.
A community that thinks and acts in a similar way.
Emotional and material support.
Protection from enemy and so on.
Is this a good deal? What are they giving away in exchange?
Tradition and culture is the opposite of innovation. Tradition says do not change. Innovation says change. By embracing traditions and culture we are discarding the change. Those who stick with the traditions are not happy to see buzzes, trends, fashions, and changing things.
As a society which is better? tradition or change?
Traditions and culture keep a society unified. People are unified when they speak the same language, read the same book, dress the same way, and so on. Now, there are many other ways to unify a country. And by unifying a country this way, they are discarding the change. What would be the outcome?
Here is a list of countries that heavily emphasize on traditions and culture vs countries that does not emphasize it. Guess their GDP?
Nations that emphasis less on culture and traditions:
Nations that emphasis on culture and traditions:
Developed nations and high GDP nations are in the first list.
The less traditional a country is, the higher the GDP is.
The list with nations that emphasis on culture and traditions contain mostly underdeveloped nations with exception of Japan. By considering how much of the traditions they have discarded during the past 50 years, it is wise to conclude that they are not a traditional country. Even the 2nd principle of Kaizen states ‘Abolish old traditions and concepts’.
In Pakistan for example if we look at the dress they wear today and compare it with the dress they wore 50 years back, we see no difference. Does this mean they have perfected the clothing? No. There is no further improvement they can do to their clothing? Sure they can improve it a hundred more ways.
India is another traditional oriented nation. Take a look at one of their language, Tamil. If a lover who lived 5000 years ago wrote a letter to his partner, and if we dig it from the ground today, anyone on the Tamil Nadu street can read it.
But the opposite is the case of English. Today’s English speakers don’t understand Canterbury tales which was written just 600 years ago. It has to be translated into modern English.
The Tamil remained same when circumstances changed. With the language people remained unchanged while English kept evolving and adapting to new circumstances.
If we look at Hollywood and Bollywood, again we can notice a reflection of both societies. We can see Sari, heavy jewelries, traditional greetings, traditional romantic relationships in almost every Indian movie. But on the other hand, in Hollywood movies we rarely see anything traditional unless they want to make fun of it. The movie Your Highness makes fun of traditional French aristocracy. On the other hand, Bollywood making fun of an Indian tradition is unimaginable. It will spark an outrage.
Did these developed nations became rich after they discarded their traditions? I mean once they become rich, saying we don’t want to follow the traditions anymore. Could that be possible?
By looking at victorian era of UK, US and France, we see major conflicts between traditionalists and innovators. The further we go back into the history we see traditional and culture oriented people in charge of the society, making all the decisions etc. During those days France/US is no different from any 3rd world countries we see today.
Back in those days there were people assigned for hunting people who try to change things or introduce new ideas. Da Vinci wrote backwards for this fear. Galileo was arrested for introducing an idea that contradicts the traditional view.
The conflict between non-traditional people and traditional people occur because the traditional people refuse to change and change makers refuse to follow the traditions. Similar conflicts occur today in Srilanka, India, and Maldives between traditional people and modern thinkers.
In the Victorian era, the modernists gained upper hand from traditionalist. The result was a huge economic revolution. The industrial revolution.
Is strong emphasis culture & tradition slows down the growth and development? What do you think?
Marx, Karl. Capital: volume one. Courier Dover Publications, 2019.
Isaacson, Walter. “Da Vinci.” (2017).
Galilei, Galileo. Dialogue concerning the two chief world systems. University of California press,