Traditions have many purposes, but unless they are examined (like I write about in this odd metaphor) we may continue doing things after they are useful to us.
There's an anecdote which sums this idea up reasonably well. (It may or may not have happened in real life. This doesn't matter.)
Once there was a woman who always cut the end off her meatloaf (doesn't have to be meatloaf, it could be a vegan dish) before putting it in the oven. One day her husband (or a common-law significant other who may not have been a different gender from her) asked why she did this. She replied, "It's how my mother made it. I'll ask her why she made it this way."
So the woman phones her mother, who replies, "I don't know. It's how MY mother made it."
So the woman phones her grandmother, who replies, "I don't know. It's how MY mother made it."
So the woman visits her great-grandmother in the care home, and asks her the same question. "Well," says her great-grandmother, "we had a small oven, and the only pan which fit in it was too big for the recipe I used!"
(This... doesn't explain why the original meatloaf slicing woman didn't just change the recipe. I don't know. Maybe she was arithmophobic and didn't understand how to make the same meal only smaller using the same ratio of ingredients, and she had a recipe down and didn't want to change anything because DAMN IT she finally got that crap to taste good and she's not about to change it now. But I digress.)
So, really, I think we should continue to look at the way we make meatloaf (both metaphorically AND literally).
This also means not getting rid of something just because it's the "old way of doing things" (because that's also a way of doing things simply because it's been done; getting rid of stuff just because it's not "modern" is not one of the best human traditions either).
(Well, no, Not as we speak. As you read words made up by pixels which appear darker or lighter in the order they do because of particular keystrokes I have made and/or as you listen to sound waves generated by a text reading program manifest my thoughts, previously manifested into the aforementioned pixels.)
As a child, I learned about the human body from what I would go so far as to describe as one of the best animated cartoons about anatomy which was animated in France in the 1980s...
( Happy little intro, for nostalgia purposesCollapse )
( Episode 19: BONESCollapse )
(Another option, in terms of watching youtube in order to gain context, is to check out this concise video if, when it comes to learning about bones, you prefer more academic terms, CGI, and synthesized choruses to talking grandfatherly blood cells and funk-influenced elevator-music-esque music.)
Certain metaphors can only go so far, of course, but I believe we can look at various individuals and groups in society as being similar to osteoblasts and osteoclasts- and in my opinion in many circumstances both are necessary to a healthy society.
You see, osteoblasts ("mononucleate cells that are responsible for bone formation") can be thought of as people and organizations interested in building upon and maintaining certain social conventions, and osteoclasts ("a type of bone cell that removes bone tissue by removing its mineralized matrix and breaking up the organic bone") can be thought of as groups and individuals interested in changing the status quo.
Someone could easily fill both these roles in regards to different aspects of society- that is, they could be interested in maintaining "traditional" social roles, but also trying to change laws regarding economics.
That said, I see ideas which I think are actually unhealthy for society (and, if we continue this human-body-metaphor, could be thought of as some kind of autoimmune disease) being passed off as positive (like some kind of osteoclast)- that is, something that will break down existing laws or traditions not for the good of the whole (or even belief in the good of the whole) even though it is sold as such to the populace as such. (I think this can be everything from aspects of imperialism to neoliberal reform- in my opinion. My humble, humble opinion.)
In conclusion: Not only do I think there is no one right way to do things, but I believe it is important for a healthy society to always be reviewing the way it does things. And listen to your wise blood cells, because they have much to tell you.
These "things" can be anything from a song making someone feel a certain way, to not being able to eat a certain food years after throwing it up while getting over the flu, to stereotypes about different cultures, to internalised ideas about one's self.
It may seem kind of obvious, but a lot of the time (as individuals, and as various societies) I think we may not realise how much the previous associations influence our reactions in the present.
I believe this is the reason some absurd ideas/practices/habits/trends continue is that people are still equating one thing with another when there really isn't any good reason to do so.