Thermidor

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Tradition: A Call To Bear The Unspeakable Burden

Right dissidents speak of Tradition piningly as if they’d willingly step through a time vortex to return to a harmonious pastoral society free from the omnipresent enculturating mass media that presently dictates proper smutty and narcissistic etiquette. While we’d naturally find the limited technological tools frustrating, and more so the lack of literature, I believe the average right winger’s soul might find traditional values a tad intolerable. For the modern man’s soul is bred on a steady diet of the stubborn independence and self-absorption that is touted by the liberal left. Our own souls are probably infected by the liberal school of thought. Let’s review some Traditional values to benefit the examination of our own conscience.

In speaking of Tradition, I could elaborate on how indispensable is the shared communal worship that all may engage in, rituals and common beliefs concerning the great life events of births, marriages, and deaths. Religion is naturally one of the mighty roots of Tradition that keep the Tree of Humanity firmly implanted in good soil. However, a twin root I’m focusing on is the necessity for deep and lasting bonds between people, which manifest themselves most clearly in familial relations. Every civilization subsists on these strong family ties.

Old-style family values are out of vogue in the West. Remnants still live on in first generation immigrants as on occasion we hear of the Pakistani man, a former doctor in his homeland, living in America as a humble janitor in a two bedroom apartment, skimping on necessities to send money home to his destitute relatives. Most have heard a rendition of this tale concerning our grandparents or at least a great grandparent in the annals of ancestry. Yet, the idea of sacrificing for one’s family is naturally repugnant to our generation. While the twenty-two-year-old Italian immigrant in 1910 was sending back half of his earnings to his parents living in rural poverty, the millennial of today has his college tuition, and room-and-board paid for by his parents. To be beholden to another in such a way is akin to being laden with a heavy burden, and America is about throwing off the shackles of any ‘burden.' Dare I say; the traditionalist placed the ‘burden’ before the self.

Filial piety taught a son or daughter to set the family in a place of utmost importance. Parents were a respected authority for they gave life and innumerable sacrifices to a child. In a land that has forgotten honor, Christians are commanded to honor their father and their mother in return. This honoring entails engaging in proper conduct towards parents and neighbors in order not only to provide immediate assistance but also to maintain a good reputation for one's own family name. We have this vague sense that historically a man’s prosperity was interwoven with his family's; that to flourish and live well on the farm, all hands were indispensable. Indeed, not only general prosperity, but every particular joy, sorrow, or grievance of one member of the family was shared by the whole.

To have strong familial ties was once natural due to the proximity of its members. This proximity is still customary and expected in Eastern cultures such as India, for a son always to live in the house of his father and to expect his bride to live with them. A heightened level of respect is accorded to all elder relatives, and they are entitled to hands-on care by their children at home. Amoungst prior generations of European Americans, there was always a great insistence on perpetuating the family. Thus the Italian stereotype of mothers nagging their sons into marrying. Yet, mothers of every culture appear to do so for family has been traditionally regarded as one of life’s greatest goods. It was an acknowledgment that in order to keep your balance in life through poverty, sickness, death, and the great unknowns – that family must ground you. After all, with a shared faith, a family and community helps to make sense of the seemingly senselessness of life's inevitable suffering.

If you balk at the notion of housing your mother-in-law and caring for her in her inevitable future decrepit state, you might be an autonomous ‘liberated’ modern woman. A recent story circulated about a 5-year old Chinese girl who cooks, cleans, and cares for her grandmother and great-grandmother after her mother abandoned her family. While an enthralling and heartbreaking tale, we know that if this worse-case-scenario played out in America that child would be handed over to CPS and those elderly relatives would be instituted in a substandard Medicare facility, and neither would see each other again. This latter scenario may be far more heartbreaking than the former. For modernity’s custom is to dispense with hands-on care of children and the aged by assigning them to impersonal institutions. The daycare worker, the teacher, and the nursing home aide may indeed care for your relative, but it’s a transitory relationship. Instead, the careers we berate end up taking precedence over kith and kin.

Modernity asserts that Men and Women should make a name for themselves. While once upon a time the majority of men were farmers or tradesmen, today’s man wades through a vast array of careers and vies with his peers to outrank them in the noble fields of finance, sales, and IT programming. The middle-class man is thus raised to fill his time zoning out on mass media, or honing his talents on the gym court and gaming system, with an occasional quick family dinner. He is then shipped to a distant school to initially drown himself in booze and graduate cum laude, in order to make a name for himself in NYC, Washington, or L.A. The parents are left to boast to their small peer group of how well Matt is doing hundreds of miles away, and yet cling to the hope that he will someday return to his hometown, marry a nice girl, and start a family. Meanwhile, Matt in NYC lives his solitary life for few men like Matt can grit their teeth and pull the trigger on a commitment to another until the ripe age of 35. For many, marriage is akin to a mid-life crisis event. In such circumstances, it is no wonder that such loose family bonds and low interdependency on one another result in the family life becoming forfeit.

Of course, far worse societal ills stem from our lack of familial loyalty and love which could be enumerated: Divorce, the prevalence of out-of-wedlock births, the legitimization of homosexual marriage, increased levels of depression, heroin addiction, violence, etc. While the decline of the family certainly isn't the sole factor in societal upheaval, familial piety and adherence to a higher Creed fomented binding relational ties in the past which we seem to no longer be able to reproduce.

It is not solely family life or marriage that modern man can’t commit to, but communal life as well. We increasingly wish to be untethered from the fetters of intimate relationships. While the Italian proverb was once Poor Folks have neither any Kindred nor any Friends, the American proverb is the Rich Man is he who's filled with every Professional, Traveling, and Spiritual experience open to man. He is the proudly independent itinerant wayfarer making his way in this world, whatever that means. A lost soul, bereft of home, family, or personal identity. A hodge-podge of collected experiences he displays like souvenirs. Nevertheless, he is very poor indeed for, at the end of the day, there will be few to stand by his side.

To digress, Western society would reduce culture to its customary foods, dress, music, and tangible material goods for the itinerant man to amuse himself with. As if it is simply the ingredients in a recipe of risotto or polenta themselves which make a meal truly "Italian." I’d venture to say, rather, that it is the company you're sitting with that makes it truly "Italian." While indeed Italians may have customary culinary delights, what you experience on a week’s brief upscale tour through Italy does not mean you’ve experienced true Italian life itself. You have not had the pleasure of truly experiencing the warmth and friendship of an Italian mother, father, friend, or priest. Essentially, you haven’t lived with someone who embodies the Italian culture in their choice of words, mannerisms, faith, upbringing, and way of life. As western liberalism seeks to abolish many cultures’ values and traditions, they will negate a culture’s principles dictating gender, familial, Church, and communal relations.

As enjoyable as it is to stab holes through the liberal program, the right proudly carries a tattered flag whose insignia it cannot quite make out. Many a right winger scoffs at family piety, yet bewails the loss of community as if one could exist without the other. For particularly Christian values have always hung upon the belief that personal relationships matter. Your behavior towards your family and community are of utmost importance. We are called to engage in the struggle between the self and our neighbor, and the "love of our neighbor" has always been an imperative aspect of the Traditionalist worldview.

To observe Traditionalism, one must engage in a direct Personalism which manifests itself in willing the good of the other through love. It is to look upon our neighbor and see the great dignity our crucified Lord gave them in his death and Resurrection. For you are nothing special, unless they are too. As Pope Benedict XVI stated:

“As a spiritual being, the human creature is defined through interpersonal relations. The more authentically he or she lives these relations, the more his or her own personal identity matures. It is not by isolation that man establishes his worth, but by placing himself in relation with others and with God.”

Truly, man only makes sense in a relationship with another. As the saying goes, Even in paradise it is not good to be alone.

There is an irreconcilable stand-off between Christianity and Liberal Progressivism concerning the individual soul. The Liberal holds that the individual’s foremost right and only duty is to dictate his own destiny and choose whatever is best for him as an individual; one's self-interests come first. Christianity’s counter argument refutes bluntly that man’s nature is and should be one defined primarily by selfishness, instead in the Christian anthropological schema, it is considered a great thorn to his growth in virtue. All of the Christian virtues, the fruits of the Holy Spirit that St. Paul listed of patience, long-suffering, faithfulness, self-control, etc., man is meant to grapple with and seek through God’s grace. While modern man seeks happiness through his own achievements, the Christian seeks true joy through living harmoniously with his fellow man.

I assert people naturally flinch from family and community. To bind ourselves to a people we risk encountering the ill-tempered, the impatient, the vulgar, the proud, plus lies, rejection, and those who are indeed more virtuous (who may the hardest pill for us to swallow). Today, we invite the very few who are near mirror images of ourselves into our inner circle of transient friends whom we keep at a safe distance. But to belong to an ever-present village meant our rough edges were to be ground against another’s testing our capacity to accept and forgive. It is a most rigorous test of virtue that modern man cringes from.

To recap, the Traditional values of strong family bonds and being community-centered take sacrifice and virtue which we naturally shy from. Modern man has chosen the alternative: to worship Mammon. While material goods and luxuries are seen as a blessing, they’ve, instead, proven to be a curse upon Humanity. We appear secure with an established career, surrounded by material wealth, yet we are poor in regards to love for we fear relationships. For the Christian this is a particularly sharp sword, as we’re meant to strive for sanctity only achieved through love and virtue in relationship, thus becoming an image of Christ.

To live Traditional Values is far more rudimentary and accessible than we often speak of. A cohesive organic community grows out of simple humble relationships. Today, choose to share in family life and reject the media. Speak to your parents more than weekly, and siblings regularly. Instead of discussing the latest Star Wars movie or Trump stunt, discuss your personal life and endeavors. Listen to oral story-telling of your older relatives about life events. Share in an experience that isn’t a passive vacuous one of watching the box. It is paradoxical, that modern man has less to say about himself personally (desires, failures, successes) and more to report on detailing his consumer purchase history (latest tech buy, vacation, recent Amy Schumer Special). Seek the family way in your own future. If you want to follow Tradition then you must commit yourself: bind yourself irrevocably to relationships and a Creed. As in original communal life, bind yourself to Church, family, a Knights of Columbus; essentially a community you’d stake yourself on. It is a giving, an offering, and a sacrifice of oneself for a greater good. In the end, you will be rich in love.

“It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. Bring Love into your home, for this is where our love for each other must start.” – Mother Teresa