What Would People Say?

Tradition says one shall never sit cross-legged in front of an elder person. Tradition says you must go to this wedding because if you don't they'll get mad at you, because you have to, because you don't have another option, because you're family, because your mothers are friends, you just have to. Tradition says that love shall come after marriage, not before. Tradition says that you have to have a wedding. Tradition says that you have to get married!

What exactly is tradition? Just some rules that have grown to be the opinions of the majority with time, and if you don't follow them you're just a bad person. If we're lucky, then our traditions would have meaning and be of any good. If we're less lucky, then they might be meaningless, yet useless and harmless. If we're so unlucky then they might be awful ideas. The point is that it's a flip of a coin and things become tradition either because they're good or because nobody cared enough to say they're wrong or meaningless. Traditions exist to force you to do things which you don't actually see or believe just because the majority likes it this way. They're a way to have the majority control the simplest things in life, be it your food, your clothes, who you invite to your wedding, where you go and not go, even who to choose to be best man or maid of honor (or our own version of it, the katb ketab witnesses).

For example, the witnesses thing, you (oh I mean your father) always have to choose your uncle to be the witness. What if you have a best friend whom you have lived your whole life with and you trust ten times more than the uncle? Why must you choose the uncle? Because if you don't, the uncle will be disappointed, because that's tradition. And yes, even if you see this uncle once every year or two and you've spent everyday of your life with your best friend. Blood is blood, biological relatives is something else. Ask someone who was adopted and they'll tell you about the real meaning of family.

Tradition is just another way of doing what you don't see, yes, hypocrisy. It's called hypothetical imperatives, the way you do things you don't really believe in just to please your society. Yes it's the same reason some girls decide to wear a veal even though they see no religious meaning for it or have never even thought about its religious meaning. Same reason why women and men feel the urge to get married before reaching a certain age just to escape the eye of the society. Same reason a person is forced to respect an elder person even if they don't respect them back for no reason. Same reason when a parent shouts at their kid they are forced to look to the ground and not answer and not even try to defend themselves. Same reason why we classify people according to the way they dress. Same reason why it's OK for boys and girls to see each other as products on the marriage market.

The thing is that the majority is not always right, or are they? We have an example these days in our beloved Egypt called Shafiq getting almost five million votes in the first round of the elections. And that's why there is always a chance to correct this wrong after a few years. The same thing does not happen in traditions except after some decades. We live for tens of years with wrong traditions that some majority that had lived some time in the past had loved for some reason that we don't know of and that might not even exist anymore! Why can't people purify their traditions of all those that cause hypothetical imperatives? This simply happens by a minority who is not afraid of being different really acting upon what they see. If some people decided to do what they see as right, rather than what the majority thinks is right traditions will change, they will be more pure and they will lose all the reasons for hypocrisy.

Start with yourself, don't be afraid to do what you see is right even if the rest see as wrong. Don't be afraid of being different. Don't be afraid of doing what you see and only what you see. Don't be afraid to question things that have been this way for years. Having an opinion that is different from that of the majority and acting upon it doesn't make you wrong or right, it only saves you from being just another hypocrite who acts to please the rest, so start with yourself.


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