The biblical evidence of how our existence came about is one we are familiar with. From Adam’s formation to Eve’s beguilement to their banishment from the Garden of Eden, one thing had been established on the long run; free-will. They both gained independent grounds. They could command their lives into any direction they desired, so long as the Hands of the Creator didn’t protest. They became, as it were, free to make their choices.
While the duo may have never known what it means to play with mud, ride tyres around streets, walk around in just pants (oh, they did this? Ok, those leafy pants, abi?), the rest of their generations–including us–have to go through formative years where the direction of our lives depend on the decisions others–most usually, our guardians–make for us. But like the law of gravity, our Adamic nature cannot be repressed, so as we develop, we bite a chunk of the apple, so to speak, and our eyes becomes opened. Then we begin to seek our individual independent grounds. In a typical urbane setting, one can immediately find that ground, but the rurality of our environments seem to chop off more space, and in such cases, that independent ground is almost–if not completely–out of reach. Several factors contribute to the paucity of personal independence, but chief of all those is custom–which is more like an umbrella word that covers terms like culture, tradition, totem, and all that jazz.
Custom is the usual way of behaving or doing things which is common among a set of people. It commonly differs from tribe to tribe, state to state, jurisdiction to jurisdiction etc. The use of the definiendum, usual, immediately brings to mind the notion of conformity, and perhaps, relevant hierarchical practices. When individuals are introduced to traditional practices right from their tottering years, and considering the impressionability of the mind at such stage, it’s easy for such person to develop considerable liking by those from whom he’s adopted such manner of behavior or of doing a particular task. That’s why, for instance, in a typical West African village, we can easily notice, or perceive, an aura of camaraderie among a unique set of people who behave in a stereotyped way.
Since the last century, or perhaps before then, the rate at which once-common customs have dwindled have been a major cause for concern by devoted rural settlers. Complaints have arose about how the average growing youth chooses to find his own path, or as is most satisfyingly put by aggrieved conformists, chooses to adopt the standard of living of the Western world.
Truth is, in point of fact, if such ‘aggrieved conformists’ had torn the veil(s) from their eyes at their growing-up years and had voyaged into a deeper level of self-discovery, many of their names may have been seen on news’ frontpages, TV shows, internet bash etc., either with their enlightened contemporaries or to this present day, and not for any infamous action but for having tried to break from the chain of living to worship a custom that have been said to have been laid down by our respective forefathers, as if the chart our lives should follow should be free-sketched by whatever oath or resolution they might have made in their moments of frustration, desperation, misguidance, sobriety or loneliness.
The grossest disservice anyone can offer a growing teen in this age is to create a self-indulgent, culture-glorifying path for such teen to follow. Some teens even have it forced down their throat and become branded pejorative names like the ‘black sheep of the dynasty’, ‘prodigal son’ when they thoughtfully decline.
In a typical rural ambience where commitment to age-long, mostly-irrelevant customs are rife, the element of free-will is benevolently overlooked and consequentially seen as rebellion. But choice is a gift the world has been poured unapologetically to all men. It’s only precautionary that while we grow, we observe some home-made standards in hope that it makes us into what each of us perceive to be a better individual.
But it’s a major causal factor of intense rebellion to rid of men the blessing of independence. To reasonable extent, it’s even a sin.
Why should we be conformed to a preset standard of living that do not suit our disposition when we could create a whole new standard for ourselves. A standard that probably would bring salvation to a larger collection of people who desperately needs reaching out than a custom that has been followed lamely without any significant contribution to the betterment of anything, or anyone.
Choice should be favoured over custom. How can we tell how many dreams have been relinquished by been forcefed with the strange arrangements of customs that should indeed be dead?
Anyday, anytime, let’s go for personal choice over general custom.