When we do not allow others the freedom to choose and we impose our decisions and beliefs, we are being oppressive. Every so often we do this perhaps unwittingly. It is what we have always seen around us. Our elders who we look up to did the same as did their before them. We did not defy them and we were seen as good for that, and others have a duty to do likewise we think. What’s more we are lauded for running a tight ship. And who are we to question tradition? But make no mistake, it is oppression nonetheless and there is a touch of the desire to be in a position of dominance and control. The tools employed are that of subtle or veiled intimidation and manipulation. The repressed play safe and submit rather than be excluded or out of favor and face uncertainty. They try to find meaning and happiness within the structure. Are praised for their obedience and devotion and sacrifice of which a virtue is made. And often the seeds are sown early when respect for authority is inculcated, when independent thinking and a free spirit is discouraged, and when dissension is scorned upon or punished. Freedom is a prerequisite to happiness. Moreover, it is an injustice, however well-meaning, where an individual is not allowed to pursue his or her dreams or to soar to the heights that he or she is capable of. Besides would it not be nicer were people to do stuff out of affection and regard rather than a sense of duty, or under compulsion or for some other consideration; and also were people to empower others rather than look to wield authority?

As for our traditions, they are there to serve the individual and society and not the other way around. Their origins have a context and reflect the knowledge, challenges and aspirations of the people of the day and they must evolve with time and the changing situation. Either that or you turn back the clock to keep them relevant! Even then where there is stagnation, muck builds-up and the soul is lost in all the murkiness.

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