A Millennial’s Guide to Embracing Tradition
It seems with each passing generation since the advent of the Baby Boomers, modern culture has by and large expressed a rejection of old-world traditionalism and values. Whether it is in art, music, philosophy, or otherwise the overwhelming sense of progressing beyond what our forebears did is what the prime motivator of society has become.
Take for instance the rejection of the Church. Many people will admit to having a sense of spirituality or a connectedness to the metaphysical, but the attendance in churches in the West is abysmal. Many people, while saying they believe in God, will disavow the concept of organized religion. Is this progress? Does this make humanity better?
To my mind, that answer is no. While it can hardly be denied that the world is experiencing growth, production, and a distribution of resources never seen on a global scale, there is a growing malaise in our hearts. Developed nations, seemingly at the peak of civilization, are polarizing to an alarming degree. Neighbor distrusts neighbor. Families are splitting apart.
In the place of the church, the state is growing. The vacuum left behind by the community provided by church, school, and your neighbor is being filled by Netflix, Youtube, Instagram, and Facebook. Why should I learn to live with those around me if I can connect with people who feel the same as I do? Does it matter that they live three thousand kilometres away?
But not everyone buys into this definition of progress. There are various movements arising in developed nations that are challenging the notions of progressivism. Are some of them misguided? Of course. These are outgrowths of natural human tendencies, and as such are subject to the same human ideas of misdirection, false prophets, unintended consequences.
So, what is a young millennial interested in grounding themselves in tradition to do? Admittedly, this is a daunting prospect to undertake. Many of your peers will deride you. Family members may reject you. The institutions that represent tradition are themselves under attack from both within and without. And even once you’ve entered them, there is a constant battle between bending to modern pressures and conserving the tradition.
Why would anyone want to do this? It is simply a matter of conscience and integrity. This is not to say that modernists are lacking in either. However, if one concludes that the foundations upon which we have built up our society are to be preserved, and not mocked or torn down, then it becomes a necessity for one to reject modernism, to say nothing of post-modernism, and work towards the restoration of tradition.
Millennials have to some extant experienced both the promises of modernity and the last vestiges of tradition. Gender roles were still quite prevalent while we were growing up. Ninja Turtles were by and large for boys, and Barbies were for girls. Yet by the time we emerged onto the professional market, the rules were changed.
For many, this came as a great relief. The burden of self-determination seemed too much, so the call from the public and increasingly the private sector to be type-cast into various identifiable groups was comforting. Why bother thinking for oneself if by virtue of self-identification into a marginalized group, the thinking can be provided for you? A daily dose of outrage delivered straight to your eyeballs.
To become an advocate of tradition is not easy. Neither is it comforting. For the rejection of modernist and post-modernist values is the rejection of comfort as we currently understand it. It is not convenient to be traditional. It is not comfortable to walk in the opposite direction of one’s peers.
Tradition demands virtue from its proponents. That demand is doubly amplified by the gaggle of progressive voices. Take for instance the absolute glee in which a modernist enjoys over the publicized moral failings of a conservative person.
This is natural and certainly will not be going away any time soon. The traditionalist circle is criticized heavily for its lack of support for those who do fail. And those criticisms are not wrong. If anything, the are a true reflection of what tradition demands. It is harsh and severe. But there is always room for people who don’t live up to the standard, because no one does. It is right, however, to require the removal of figures from positions of authority when they have shown themselves as lacking in moral judgement.
These then are the things I argue represent the best we can do in modern Western society to reclaim the traditional virtues, heritage, and structure for which our forebears laboured. These are presented in somewhat of a chronological order which may have to be adapted to fit unique circumstances.
1. Join the Catholic Church. If there is a traditional Latin mass offered in your area, check it out as well. One can hardly find a stauncher advocate for traditional family values such as the sanctity of marriage, of birth, and of the human body and spirit. These values are the foundation of a thriving functional society. Do not merely attend, but become part of the community, for there is the full extant of the joys of tradition.
2. Adapt a lifestyle of truth, honesty, and frugality. There are times and places for excesses, such as we have seen in history. This was a perfectly appropriate counterpoint to seasons of sacrifice and want. But in our time excess is pervasive and overwhelming. This could take the form of minimalism, or it could simply be a refusal to be taken in by the siren call of social media. Truth demands a rejection of consumerism.
3. Be gainfully employed and give honest effort in your endeavours. This one seems to be extremely difficult for people of all ages and generations since the great wars. But it is critical if you are a man that your day be filled with honest labour and that you have struggled and have overcome. In most cases, it won’t seem fair to give so much to an institution that returns so little, but it is important nonetheless.
4. Choose an extra-curricular activity that elevates the soul and empowers the spirit, rather than merely satisfying the senses. Get involved in the arts or make something with your hands. Be a producer, bringing new things into the world, as opposed to passively ingesting what the world offers you.
5. Exercise the mind and body. Work is what we are made for, work is what we have long avoided or denied ourselves. Put your mind and body to work. Become stronger in thought and in muscle, whereupon your spirit will be at ease.