Tradition and progress are complementary to each other. They are mutually exclusive. Too much traditional bondage is as harmful as too much progress at the expense of traditional values. The concept of the “generation gap” is but another name for this divorce between “tradition” and “progress bondage ” is as harmful as too much progress at the expense of traditional values. The concept of the “generation gap” is but another name for this divorce between “tradition” and “progress.”
Tradition means passed beliefs that we follow from generation to generation, which we obey in our lives either by knowing them or unknowingly. It is totally up to an individual whether he or she will follow traditional values and take them as a lesson or not. Since tradition is unwritten, it gets changed to suit the necessities of the time, but it is a chapter that gives lessons about right and wrong. Obeying these values does not make us orthodox; rather, it makes us aware of the past and helps us make the right decision. It not only binds us to our forefathers but also makes our character distinct. Tradition acts as a testimony to our culture and society.
Ours is a broadminded society and progress is its maxim. Science had made improvements and it has made our lives progressively simpler with increasing material comforts. The progressive social reforms and the new humanism has broken the fetters of the caste system. Man is now one race. Today the distinctions between high and low-born, white-brown and dark or colour bars are disappearing quickly like an evil dream.
These were, indeed, the curses of tradition. In India, it was like the vice of our Sanskrit culture, or Bhahminism; in England, it was a consequence of her feudalism. However, great social reformers such as Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, as well as writers such as Rabindranath Tagore, broke these shackles forever, and man is much freer today. They have cleared the floor for progress.
Some traditions looked superstitious. So later we ban them. Some examples are:
- Sati system was a tradition that forced women to die with their husbands.
- According to tradition women should wear Indian dresses, they should treat their husbands as God and so on. People moved on from this old tradition and this let women become equal earning partners in today’s life.
- Many countries follow racism. Obama broke the barrier and became the first black US president.
But the question arises: Should we turn our back on tradition, on our culture? Has it nothing to contribute?
Man is one race, but his geographical background, cultural factors, family, and social constraints all play a role in the development of his personality.His religious ideology, faith, quality, and level of education instilled in him a mental bent, a habitual personality that is distinct to his society, sect, and tribe.
Progress that ruthlessly undermines or threatens this tradition should be strongly opposed. This traditional diversity is the vital force that makes human life so charming, even if it is faulty and backdated in some places.
Traditional values such as respect for seniors, a duty to parents, the elderly, and the sick, and sacrifice for the physically disabled or financially crippled are less valued by today’s youth.Their ambition carries them to the tip of the wave. They believe that such considerations act as a barrier in the path of progress.
They consider it an insult to remain faithful to a wife whose intellect does not match theirs.They throw old parents into old-house asylums and children into creches. They say that waiting for the physically disabled, the elderly, or the sick is like falling into the backwaters of time.Progress does not tolerate the idle, the weak, or the sick.
It is progressing with revenge. The above values have been an essential part of our culture. The older families were like institutions that produced healthy values. Today, the concept of progress is a kind of commodity culture that ruins such values. A malicious wave of self-centric lifestyles seems to be engulfing the human race.
The traditional flaws have to be dug over, not ruthlessly but with sympathy. The level of progress has to compromise with the long-lasting values of the past. If cultural ethics are lost, we shall become rootless. We should remove tradition where it stands as an obstacle, but not by deserting it fully.
Tradition teaches us ways to use our time more efficiently. The tragedy lies in the fact that most elders tend to look down upon the young generation if they don’t obey the religious and cultural traits of their parents. These decisions are up to the person.
Traditional habits like touching the feet of the elders and visiting temples on auspicious occasions are signs of a purified sense of culture, not of backwardness. Tradition can’t be an obstacle.