Very often people confuse culture with traditions.
Sometimes when people gossip about someone's
private life they would say that he or she had to do it
because it is our culture. They would say it with a shade
of approval although it is known that a person in
question had to do something against his or her will.
When I end up being a bystander of such conversation, I am
always surprised that people are not concerned whether the
person they gossip about is going to be fine. They are
concerned about the established order and appear to be
satisfied that a compliance with customs conventions is
observed. It made me think what and where does not work
if someone's well-being is less important than an approval
of a society.
I do not think it is acceptable that frequently use the word
"culture" justifies circumstances that force a person to do
something which he or she would rather not do. Therefore,
I started my research with definitions.
Definition of culture is the arts and other manifestations of
human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.
Culture refers to the cumulative deposit of knowledge,
experience, beliefs, values, attitudes, meanings, hierarchies,
religion, spatial relations, material objects and possessions
acquired by a group of people during generations. Tradition
defined as a long-established custom or belief that has been
passed on from one generation to another.
According to Reference.com culture and traditions are not
the same because tradition is the passing of beliefs from one
generation to the next, whereby culture consists of the
features that describe a society at any given time.
Reference.com also indicates that tradition often remains
the same over time but culture changes continuously, even
within the same society.
It gradually became apparent why people are confused. I
noticed that some definitions illustrate tradition as
something bigger and constant as compared to ever
changing culture. In my view, this is a fundamental mistake
that undermines culture and overrates tradition.
Although it is correct that nothing remains the same, it does
not mean that culture would continuously change. It is
appropriate to say that culture would constantly evolve into
something better. Culture is something that cultivates,
uplifts our spirit. It gives us something positive and
something to look forward to. Culture is something which
gives hope, provides us with the energy to move forward
although we think that we almost have no energy left. A
culture of any nation would produce those people who
would start doing something so positive which would drive
the entire nation to the better future. It is a fundamental
force that let people evolve spiritually.
However, historical facts show that tradition, not culture,
instead of evolving is constantly changing throughout the
process of evolution of a society. Facts illustrate that we
used to have one set of traditions centuries ago and now we
have traditions that are substantially different. For instance,
traditions in Europe years ago, were that parents of a boy
would have to ask permission of parents of a girl for them
to marry. Pre-marital sex was not acceptable whatsoever.
Soon to be married at times had never seen each other
before the wedding day. However, in our modern world, it
is something unthinkable.
Unlike tradition, culture contains the same components
throughout millenniums - art, literature, architecture, etc.
"New" is created, but the "Old" is also celebrated. When we
talk about culture, the "New" and the "Old" are not
conflicting with each other. Instead, they complement each
other. Moreover, in culture, the "New" often is not possible
without the "Old". But we cannot say the same about
Therefore, when someone is forced to do something against
this person’s will, it has nothing common with the culture.
Because forces behind such circumstances would rather
push a person down instead of uplifting him or her. It would
damage or destroy his or her personality, and take away the
hope making the person's life meaningless. It deprives and
undermines the person by taking away the right to look
forward to any positive future. It will eventually kill that
We need to understand the difference because it is not right
if someone must suffer just because it is perceived by society
as the right way of doing things. Tradition is not an objective
circumstance and it changes frequently. It shall not be
considered as more valuable than someone’s happiness.
If we learn how to differentiate culture from tradition, we
may also speed up our evolution as a human race. A better
understanding will make a real difference for real people by
changing their life for better. It will assist us to avoid
circumstances when people must follow traditions even if it
is against their will.