Michael is a commander in the army. Last summer, he was promoted and transferred to a new place to serve. In this regiment, he found that there was a door that was always guarded by two soldiers.
Michael thought to inspect the room. But to his utter dismay, the place was empty. There was nothing on the other side of the door- not even a blank paper.
It was strange. Michael asked the soldiers about the strict security for the door, which kept nothing.
The soldiers replied, “Sir, we don’t know the reason. But it was the order of the previous commander that this room must not be left unguarded.”
Michael was wise and quite familiar with the army rules. He knew that every soldiers’ time was precious. And if a commander had ordered for a 24×7 security, there must be something very important or confidential behind that door.
He somehow managed to find the contact number of the previous commander.
Michael introduced himself to the previous commander and asked the reason behind the tight security outside the door.
The previous commander replied, “Unfortunately, I also don’t know the reason. But I can tell you this that ingeniously this was not my order. The tradition of guarding the door is older than me too. If you really are that curious, try calling the commander who served before me.”
Going back to four other commanders, Michael finally met the man who gave these orders.
He was nearly 100 years old now and retired almost 50 years ago.
Michael very politely introduced himself. After giving the full description of the door and room, he said, “Sir, I am serving as a commander at the same post you did 50 years back. Sir, I will be very grateful if you could tell me the reason behind the tradition of guarding the door.”
The 100-year-old now-retired commander seemed as if he was trying hard to comprehend the question Michael had asked.
After thinking for 3 to 4 minutes, he said, “Which door? Is the paint still wet?”
Michael had nothing to say and nothing to know anymore. He thanked the commander for his time and left.
So this is how traditions start.
At the time of starting something, there might be a valid and relevant reason behind it. But in the majority of cases, the relevance behind the actions fades away over time. Once pertinent and even necessary steps or actions hold no significance after a certain period. You can find thousands of similar examples.
And the most unfortunate and disturbing thing is that people who practice these traditions regularly don’t even try to find the reason. They just keep doing it just because someone else they know or respect has also been doing it.
Don’t be a tradition carrier. Instead, be an inquirer. If the tradition does not serve well now, break it. Believe it or not, breaking this chain of traditions, you will be setting free thousands of people along with you.
That’s why let’s aspire to become a breaker of chains. Ask questions until you find the answer. Accept only those traditions which hold some significance. Otherwise, discard them. They are dead and society does not need to carry the dead traditions’ weight.