Thursday

arbitary social conventions

so lets see.

i see no value in arbitary social conventions; all traditions should be examined to see if they are harmful before being propogated. if they are harmless but useless, i am on the side of continuing them, because traditions are in themselves quite nice. they provide continuity, a sense of community. with this i do not argue. but i don't think it necessary to continue certain rites, simply because they are traditional. that does not make them better than other rituals that are not traditional. new traditions should be encouraged as much as old ones are diseminated.
thus traditions are nice, but not valuable. it is because they are silly, pointless and harmless and they should be retained.

some would argue from faith; that to question traditions at all immediately ruins them. they must be accepted altogether. these people are, frankly, wankers, who are usually trying to pass off such bigoted views as racism and theocracy under the war-cry of 'tradition'. they are consciously trying to hide their agenda, because they know the best way to have it accepted is by subterfuge. it is this tradition of blinkers, of mental baggage, that can only make people think 'my traditions are better than yours'. it is this tradition we should do away with first, but perhaps hardest.

maybe there is a weaker argument, not from faith, that says questioning traditions spoils them; the argument from naiveity against cynicism. but one can't stop being cynical and analytical simply because one finds it unpleasant, unless one finds it more unpleasant than the things you are trying to oust as bad traditions.

but while some traditions are obviously bad (e.g. living in fear of a god, eating meat) and others are obviously good (e.g. purim), and some are clearly silly, pointless, and harmless (can't think of any right now), there's obviously a massive grey area. wearing a yamulke or a head-scarf all the time doesn't hurt anyone. in this case, it's not the tradition of doing that that's harmful, but the mindset behind it. doing things arbitary because of tradition is only fun if you know they're arbitary and celebrate the fact. that is good tradition.
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