The price of culture

I have always suspected that tradition and culture are confused and used interchangeably. I tried to Google the difference and came up with even more confusion, but I think the following definition from rediff Q&A seems to make the most sense, or it’s the closest to the way I understand it:

Tradition is way of living, expected to be blindly followed, no questions asked!
Culture defines that way of living and seggregates it from other ways of living by giving it a unique space to thrive on

In short it would appear that ancient traditions that are passed down from past generations, are either adopted as is, or modified in some way to eventually become the culture of the present generation. There are undeniably good traditions such as fun dances and huge family get-togethers. There are also unbelievably bad traditions such as beheadings and other gruesome methods of torture and killing, and others mostly associated with religion.

Modern democracies seem to think it necessary to protect cultures (and religions; although why an all-powerful god cannot protect his own conduit for adulation, has not been successfully explained yet) and hence it becomes constitutional. Effectively, a whole lot of bad traditions which have found their way into present cultures, become protected by law. Thus we have the absurd situation where cultural groups can pretty much behave in ways that are repulsive to other cultural groups, but will receive protection from the state. Society then functions by enforced tolerance – we all hate each others way of life, but there isn’t a damn thing we can do about it. Such a society certainly cannot be a healthy society.

Which brings me to the reason for this rant: It’s been reported in the press today that our President, Jacob Zuma’s three wives and 20 children (at last count) costs the South African taxpayer in the region of R15.5million to support annually.

Polygamy is a tradition that has no relevance in modern society. I don’t care if the women involved in polygamous relationships think it’s fine or fun, but in the modern world, this practice is an insult to women in general. And any man who tells me that marrying multiple women is doing them a favor, is either a filthy liar, or a total idiot. Yet, in South Africa, and probably many other countries too, the government demands that it be tolerated, because it enjoys protection as a fucking cultural practice.

It’s bad enough that I have to tolerate religion and culture, but it’s downright outrageous that I have to pay for someone else’s fucked-up sense of responsibility too.