The very sound of the word invokes a sense of gravity and solemnity. Tradition. Suuz’chok in the drow language, and there, too, as in every language that I have heard, the word rolls off of one’s tongue with tremendous weight and power.
Tradition. It is the root of who we are, the link to our heritage, the reminder that we as people, if not individually, will span the ages. To many people and many societies, tradition is the source of stricture and of law, the abiding fact of identity that denies the contrary claims of the outlaw , or the misbehavior of the rogue. It is that echoing sound deep in our hearts and our minds and our souls that reminds us of who we are by reinforcing who we were. To many it is even more than the law; it is the religion, guiding faith as it guides morality and society. To many, tradition is a god itself, the ancient rituals and holy texts, scribbled on unreadable parchments yellowed with age or chiseled into eternal rocks.
To many, tradition is all.
Personally, I view it as a double-edged sword. and one that can cut even more deeply in the way of error:
I saw the workings of tradition in Menzoberranzan, the ritualistic sacrifice of the third male child (which was almost my own fate), the workings of the three drow schools. Tradition justified my sister’s advances toward me in the graduation of Melee-Magthere, and denied me any claims against that wretched ceremony. Tradition holds the Matrons in power, limiting the ascent of any males. Even the vicious wars of Menzoberranzan, house against house, are rooted in tradition, are justified because that is the way it has always been.
Such failings are not exclusive to the drow. Often i sit on the northern face of Kelvin’s Cairn looking out over the empty tundra and the twinkling lights of the campfires in the cast barbarian encampments. There, too, is a people wholly consumed by tradition, a people clinging to ancient codes and ways that once allowed them to survive as a society in an inhospitable land, but that now hinder them as much as, or more than, helps them. The barbarians of Icewind Dale follow the caribou herd from one end of the dale to the other. In days long past that was the only way they could have survived up here, but how much easier might their existence be now if they only traded with the folk of Ten-Towns, offering pelts and good meat in exchange for stronger materials brought up from the south so they might construct more permanent homes for themselves?
In days long past, before any real civilization crept this far to the north, the barbarians refused to speak with, or even to accept, anyone else within the Icewind Dale, the various tribes often joining for the sole purpose of driving out any intruders. In those past times, any newcomers would inevitably become rivals for the meager food and other scarce supplies, and so such xenophobia was necessary for basic survival.
The folk of Ten-Towns, with their advanced fishing techniques, and their rich trade with Luskan , are not rivals of the barbarians-most have never even eaten venison, I would guess. And yet, traditions demands of the barbarians that they do not make friends with those folk, and indeed, often war upon them.
What gravity indeed does that word impart! What power it wields! As it roots us and grounds us and gives us hope for who we are because of who w were, it also wreaks destruction and denies change.
I would never pretend to understand another people will enough to demand that they change their traditions, yet how foolish it seems to me to hold fast and unyielding to those mores and ways without regard for any changes that have taken place in the world about us. For that world is a changing place, moved by advancements in technology and magic, by the rise and fall of populations, even by blending of races, as in the half-elf communities. The world is not static, and if the roots of our perceptions, traditions, hold static, then we are doomed, I say, into destructive dogma.
Then we fall upon the darker blade of that double-edged sword.
– Drizzt Do’Urden
Quoted from R.A.Salvatore’s Trilogy The Icewind Dales
I do not know where these words truly come from, but I find thought and reflection within them. They seem to universally bend around topics and areas within the human. Offering no answers, but perspectives which I truly appreciate.