What does it mean to be Orthodox?

Simply put it, it means to resist change.

Most often, we are kind of brainwashed or taught that some things happen because they do, and you should always do it, because it is the right thing to do. When we become too engrossed in such thoughts that the other point of view or any changes in the surrounding make no difference to you, it is called being orthodox.

Why be Orthodox

We do not understand what does it mean to be orthodox. Orthodoxism was born out of a necessity for humans to not destroy themselves. It acted like a fail-safe for humanity to not collapse on itself. Exploring and curiosity are key components of humans, but there must exist a kill-switch incase the curiosity goes the wrong way. Religions and cults even within kingdoms were established for the same reason. To prevent humanity for stumbling upon its own mind, fragmented dissection of cruelty.

We always want change, but we resist it. This ironical juxtaposition has been observed in many slices of society throughout human history. There are some things that are just better off not doing… we do not go into, that is why rules are made on what is considered evil and suspicious. There are rituals and Ethnocentrism which are highly questionable beliefs. But in their time, people did not know that they were questionable. It was the belief in them that fueled the rise of the bubble. Superstitions are one of the most prevalent ones and that we are familiar with.

Image of a very small bubble ready to disrupt an existing bubble rippling in a vast water body

Superstitions

The common norms of the ancient Orthodox society have been reframed as Superstitions by us, which often evolve into malpractices. The purpose behind them is generally to ensure that good things get imposed the correct way, rather than having vulnerability of exploring: ending up with wrong elements.

For Example, there’s a popular saying that one should never sleep under a Peepal Tree, the reason is that a ghost lingers underneath, this serves as an effective way to prevent a child from going under trees to sleep, but if you try to convey the same thing by explaining that trees give out more CO2 at night, then it might not be that efficient and child may still get swayed. The element of rigidity and fear has been a tool that is used till date. But the problem comes in the very definition of right and wrong - they are relative terms, meaning different things for different people. What is good changes with time and situation, but the orthodox rule remains the same.

The GAP

The Language, Cultural and generational gap serve as an amplifier for Orthodox norms to turn into malpractices (superstitions, rituals, caste ), this is because of the fact that due to the gap we are unaware of the true purpose and “Why” behind the norms, and what we remain stuck to is not the ideology but the practice i.e. “What” & “How” while the “Why” is lost. Had we been aware of the purpose, then being orthodox about the “Why” and evolving the “What” based on the circumstances of the society we live in, would serve the purpose. This could possibly irradiate some of the key problems from Child-Marriage, Dowry, or even the Education of Women.

We need change

The Universe is dynamic. There is no stable equilibrium, Entropy(randomness) is always increasing. We as a society are always in search of an equilibrium, which works for as long as it can. But the fact is that it is not possible to achieve, and even if we achieve the unstable equilibrium, we can sustain only by being orthodox, but it’s also vulnerable to change. It is always a cycle. We often dream and target to be in a Utopia, but we know for a fact that the level of Goodness needed is not available. Even in a Utopia, there will always be some people who will not want to stay in the state they are in, and will change. The cycle will continue from being in Utopia to becoming selfish and mindless. Rinse and repeat.

How even leaves change and repeat the cycle with passage of the year.

During the Egyptian Era, the civilisation stayed constant, without much changes. They built same type of structure had same kind of proved to work workings and management for almost 3000 Years, but it had it’s declined, it wasn’t sustainable forever.

Problems it causes

Let us consider, a fairly popular example of an Oak tree and grass. In general life and long scales of time; the Oaktree is more stable and rigid. But in case of a massive storm that comes in. The Oaktree which stood rigid to its core, will break its barks or even uproot itself as it tried to fight the storm. Whereas, the insignificant grass, will sway away easily with the storm and survive.

In the same, way being orthodox and rigid to your own principles is good, but in the long run, if some massive purge happens - the oak tree needs to adapt itself like the grass and move along.

Conclusion

More often that not, for saving the environment, to address social issues, focus on education and other goals - being highly strict and focused on your principles is needed. It might seem orthodox, but a lot of arguments are to be made on how not being flexible is helpful. But, you should be ready to change the behaviour and practices as and when needed according to the current prevailing situation, and what is best for the society.

Instead of focusing on what and how, we should focus on Why? Why was a particular cult been enacted. It might seem impractical and impossible in current stage of the world, but if we can truly understand the WHY behind it, it could be adopted to much better suit the current scenario.


Massive thanks to Aryan and Aabhas for their contributions.