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Tradition and Modernity
|by Ganganand Jha|
Tradition is the accumulated experience of yesteryears. This is a consequence of observations and meeting the challenges and opportunities of living by trial and error. So it may serve as protocol of conduct. By adhering to tradition one can keep oneself on the right side of conduct. But change is a constant. So traditions may become out of sync and therefore may not be suitable to be followed.
Tradition is an indicator of the path trodden and need to be understood in proper context.
A tradition is kept alive by being subjected to continual scrutiny and renewal. There is all the difference between a tradition that is alive and one that is lifeless and backward looking.
Modernity is the quality of being current or of the present.
Acceptance of new belief and practice is Modernity; Merely turning back on tradition is not modernity,
Modernity is by no means a painless process. But society, as a whole pays a higher price by turning its back on the changes emanating from the outside world in order to safeguard all its ingrained beliefs and practice.
Modernity is about living with contradictions and infiltrating what is old into the new.
We live in a changing world that constantly throws up new challenges. The clever thing to do is to convert these into opportunities. There is no wisdom in being blindingly obscurantist or rapaciously greedy.
The present consumerist culture is based on the philosophy of use and throw. The status of a member of a family is determinant upon his/her present and future usefulness and his/her past contributions have no relevance.
In the present regime the family protocol is badly bruised. It is so because the basis of family protocol is tradition. The zealots of modernity abdicate it because they identify tradition as opposed to modernity. Though tradition has the potential of serving as guide to modernity
The equation of tradition vis-à-vis modernity is often not understood clearly.
Characteristics of a new generation are determined by its combined biological and cultural inheritance. The glimpse of its cultural aspect is seen its various traditions. The traditions of a community demonstrate the experiences of the evolution and development of that community. These are not immutable or objective. Modernity is the capacity to incorporate new experiences and new achievements. Vibrant and progressive societies constantly keep on renewing their traditions by these qualities. A living tradition does not have a static form; new experiences keep on renewing it.
With the modern development the psyche of man began to change. People who came from the margins of the community started to crave for higher status and disown their immediate past. Supremacy of greed and enjoyment kept on increasing in place of sacrifice and renunciation. Horizons of individuality are shrinking as the thrust of individualism increases.
In the present post modern times, consumerism has gate-crashed into our homes along with its caravan and is converting our compassion for relationships into commodities
Flow of desire has become limitless; Respect for values is being drained along with it. There is no space for parents in the family. All the relatives are now distant. In the grip of greed, a society is developing in which no true respect is left for old people, or true love for children.
Such a society is not only estranged from the positivity of tradition, together with that it is deprived of the conscience to identify the promises hidden in the womb of future.
These people identifying themselves as modern have cauterized their nerves which are collectively known as conscience. A coincidental and inevitable consequence is that they are deprived of the sensitivity of love and sharing. They are just unaware of what is love.
They do not have any understanding of the pain of love, joy of love and joy of pain. They know only getting, they do not crave for joy, Hankering after happiness they are destined to run after the mirage of life. They keep on guarding their ego confusing it with self.
Most remarkable achievement of modernity is to project new dimensions before the women. Traditionally a woman has been identified only as a member of family - a mother, wife, sister or daughter. Modernity recognizes her as an individual and deserving status equal to man. They have opportunities as well as insecurities Modernity has offered unprecedented opportunities to women. It is a challenge too to the modern women. If she gets ready to face this challenge and grab the opportunity, then only she would become blissful.
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