November 2, 2007

“Tradition” or “culture” are often the “magic words”. They stop arguments, accusations as long as someone shouts “It’s our tradition/culture!” It seems that they are the ultimate justification for some irrational human behaviors. But in fact, they are nothing more than some human habits that we either see no point of changing them (in cases that we deem the tradition or culture to be good or useful) or are too lazy to do anything about them.

Those who treat “tradition argument” as their “nuclear weapons” apparently don’t notice how many traditions they have abandoned: few of them will marry (push it back a little more, there was even no such concept as marriage, but only having sex with) their opposite sex parent, or siblings, or children. Only god knows how long the humans had been doing this in history. Thousands of years ago, a male would bring a dead animal he hunted to a female to win her heart; if you try this now in most part of the world, you don’t get to hear “I do” but “Ewww” or “freak”. Wasn’t that a tradition we (the humans) use to cherish for so long?

At a time when overfishing is threatening the entire ocean; and when researches are proving that some animals like dolphins, whales, elephants are more intelligent and social than we used to think, we should also reconsider some tradition we used to take for granted.

A National Geographic article reported whaling of Canadian Inuits, who are among the only tribes allowed to whale to a certain amount every year. The Inuits are now using rifles instead of spears. Yet, it still requires remarkable skill to have “one shot one kill”. The author of the article saw many teenagers hunting with adults, shooting like a rookie, hurting many while landing none. The injured whales usually would swim away and die somewhere else soon, which means the actual number of whales killed is higher than the one allowed by the law. Yet the adult hunters did not even care what the kids were doing with their rifles. Talking about tradition…. Those who killed whales with spears at close range were recognized as warriors. That’s the point of the tradition. Look at the so-called tradition now. The modern Inuits, by using rifles in a irresponsible way, have long abandoned the essence of the tradition. Hunting whales with rifles uncontrollably, while still claiming it’s their “tradition” subject to the protection of the law the modern Inuits (along with other pro whaling countries or tribes) are hijacking the whole world that has no taste in whaling. That “tradition” or “culture” should be abandoned and spit on, like what we did and will do to numerous traditions of ours.

Here is the ugly face of that tradition in Japan.