Unnecessary Traditions

by Handsome Matt

There is a new season of “Whale Wars” coming out. I’m not really a fan of the show, but I can appreciate the actions of the “warriors” to a certain extent. But what really strikes me about the show is how whaling came about to begin with, and why it’s still done today.

Whales were a huge source of food and resources for coastal dwelling tribes and Victorian Europe. But the majority of the world has moved beyond the need for lamp oil and blubber. But the damage had been done, certain groups of individuals began to identify their cultural heritage as being centered on whaling.

And in this age of liberal egalitarianism, no cultural heritage could ever possibly be wrong.

Except here’s the issue: The hunting and killing of whales came out of necessity. But the need to do that is no longer present, it’s become a luxury. And as such I would argue it is a mockery of one’s culture and heritage to continue it.

Yes I said it, and I will say it time and again: If a cultural tradition has outlived its usefulness then it is a mockery to continue it.

To clarify: I’m not talking about hunting as a necessary population control as is seen today in cases like deer, ducks, geese et cetera. But we’re talking about the hunting of certain species that are in danger of going extinct.

Whaling is just one example of it. We drive cars more often than we need to, because we’ve bought into the idea of independence that a car brings to us.  Chinese medicine has thousands of supposed cures that have no real evidence to back them up (Rhinoceros horn or bear penis come to mind). All of these wrongs are perpetrated in the name of cultural identity, and no one is willing to stop and say “maybe this doesn’t define us as a people at all!”

I would argue that the automobile doesn’t define Americans, so much as it represents our restless spirit. The desire to see the world, and be free to do it. That is our cultural identity; not a ten gallon per mile dinosaur of a truck.

What was born out of necessity but has outlived it’s usefulness in our lives today? If we’re holding onto them out of some perceived cultural identity then we need to stop. We’re mocking whatever sacrifices were made by those before us, and we’re doing ourselves no favors.