Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" is a powerful argument against ritual and tradition. She is not arguing that all traditions and ceremonies are inherently evil. What she is showing us is that following a ritual mindlessly can lead people to evil acts. The people in the village clearly have no idea why this ritual is performed every year. They speculate about it, that perhaps it owed its origin to some sort of sacrifice to improve the harvest, but they seem to realize how silly that is. They acknowledge that other villages are abandoning the tradition, but they adhere to it blindly, doing something because it has always been done. We are civilized human beings, who should be able to reason about right and wrong and leave behind foolish and superstitious ceremonies, which is why tribes no longer practice cannibalism and we know better than to throw young virgins into volcanoes to placate the gods. Committing a barbaric act cannot be justified just because it has always been done, nor can it be justified on the basis that our leaders have told us to commit it.