Just as the urban / coastal elite in the US ridicules what was once called “America’s Heartland” as “flyover states,” and conservative, traditional country people as “rednecks” at best, “deplorables” at worst, so the urban elites in the UK disparage countryside people, pastimes, and traditions.
The Countryside Alliance was founded, IIRC, in 2005, in the aftermath of the ban on mounted foxhunting under the Tony Blair administration. As it says of itself on its website,
“The Countryside Alliance is the campaigning organisation that promotes the rural way of life in Parliament, in the media and on the ground. We campaign for the countryside, for rural communities and for hunting and shooting.
“We publicise the economic, social and environmental contribution the countryside makes to the national economy and quality of life.
“Our aim is to promote understanding and acceptance of the rural way of life and activities such as hunting and shooting in a managed landscape, and to protect them from bias, misinformation and over regulation.”
“Imagine a world that is clean, insofar as a world of fallen human beings is ever going to be so. Imagine then that a boy’s heart would beat a hundred times a minute just at the thought that he might hold the hand of the beautiful girl whom he admires so much – because she is kind and good and merry.
“Imagine that they have walked aside from a feast at their parish church, to watch the herons wading in the river to catch their fish, and the sun is deepening to orange in the west, and the sounds of children playing come to their ears from far away. Imagine that she too can hardly think of anything else but his presence, and that she is hoping that he will take her hand, though she is a little shy of it.
“Imagine that that they sit on a bench, and when they run out of things to say, he places his hand upon hers. And they sit like that for a long while…
“That boy and girl I have described will remember that moment for the rest of their lives, whether or not they end up marrying one another. It will be a memory filled with the sweetness and the innocence and the promise of youth.
“It will be a moment without guilt, or shame, or, God forbid, the remembered fear that they might have made a child, one that they were not in the slightest bit ready to care for, and one whose life would be at grave danger as soon as he were conceived. They could stand before God and man without anything for which to apologize.”
There are many points worthy of highlighting in this lengthy but excellent essay by Thomas Ascik – which I strongly encourage you to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest! – but here is one that jumped out at me, and not only because it features one of my favorite writers and thinkers, Tony Esolen:
“Focusing on the differences between men and women and between fatherhood and motherhood, Dr. Esolen goes into an extensive analysis of the contemporary American family. He argues that girls become women more easily than boys become men, and, thus, the redefinition of masculinity and the compromising of formerly boy-oriented institutions like the Boy Scouts has been catastrophic. As a summary of ‘the way of the world’ in modern times, he points out that the Industrial Revolution took the father out of the house and feminism took the woman out of the house.”
This blog article in Psychology Today traces the top five causes of the epidemic of depression here in the U.S. (and in fact, throughout much of the world). These include:
1. The erosion of traditional social structures and communities. “A gradual disintegration of the social fabric, which has closely paralleled industrial and technological growth, has resulted in greater isolation and loneliness… we have become increasingly disconnected from family, friends, and neighbors. Urbanization and the breakup of the extended family and rural community are leading causes of this social atomization.”
2. Changes in modes of communication. “Following the physical upheaval of urbanization, the world has been swept by a tidal wave of electronic innovation… [The] alarming rise in depression among U.S. youth during the period 2004–2015… coincides with the birth and rapid growth of smartphone usage during the same period. While this does not prove a cause-effect relationship, it would seem to reinforce an urgent need to closely examine the impact of smartphone usage on the communication skills and psychological well-being of young people.”
3. Changes in Diet. “Consumption of processed foods, which mostly contain a serious imbalance of omega fats, large quantities of sugar, and a lack of fermented ingredients, are radically affecting the delicate balance of our gut flora. A landmark comparison between North Africans and North Americans revealed sharp declines in bacterial diversity among the North American group, including genera containing the psychobiotic strains… Is fast food and processed food throwing our microbiome, that is, our internal environment, into chaos in the same way that pollution is destroying the macrobiome?”
[Note: the Weston A. Price Foundation has been saying this since 1999; Dr. Price himself raised the alarm regarding processed foods vs traditional dietary patterns, back in the 1930s and 40s. This is not new information! But it’s finally beginning to be recognized by the mainstream.]
4. The intense competition surrounding education among industrialized nations. “Korea, Japan, China, and to a growing degree, Western nations, are experiencing an exponential rise in youth depression… fierce competition in the academic arena, in which academic success is equated with social and economic “success” by parents, is leading to a loss of personal autonomy and acute stress. Secondary schools are now largely focused on exam-centered curricula… marked by a lack of content related to life skills, social-emotional learning, and wellbeing in general.”
5. The familiar socio-economic suspects, including war and poverty. “Nations strongly affected by conflict and extreme poverty, with an emphasis on extreme, rank relatively high on the depression scale and low in happiness and satisfaction. Nonetheless, the relationship between GDP and depression/happiness rates is by no means linear… Personal freedom and the presence of social networks, two factors inversely correlated to depression mentioned above, are highly related to scores on the Positive Experience Index of the Global Emotions Report.”
Assuming that the above is accurate, and based on my own experience and informal research, I believe it is, what is most interesting in all this to me – aside from a certain degree of grim satisfaction of the “I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so” variety – is that four out of five of these factors are both endemic to, and so far as can be determined, unique to, our modern/postmodern age. Our ancestors had rough lives in many respects – rougher than ours in most – but they do not appear to have suffering from comparable levels of depression… which has spiked in recent years, as recounted in the linked article, and many others.
These contributing factors to the contemporary depression epidemic can therefore (despite the usual disclaimers about correlation not equalling causation) be pretty much laid at the feet of our abandonment of traditional approaches, thoughts, understandings, philosophies, and ways of living and being, in so many areas of life, from foodways to lifeways, from communication to education.
This mindless neophilia, this willingness (even eagerness) to cast aside the traditional, the tried and true, and to eternally chase after the supposedly “new and improved,” which is so characteristic of our present society, is going to kill us – is killing us – if we do not moderate it with a more sensitive and sympathetic appropriation and re-adoption of traditional norms and ways of life.
Just one more, and then I promise I will recede back into my self-imposed Lenten sabbatical, at least for a while…!
This came across my news-feed just this morning:
Nowadays, this is all too sadly true.
Too many young women today are destroying their natural beauty with tattoos and piercings, scrawling all over the masterpiece God made them to be, and dressing to be provocative or shocking rather than in ways that exemplify an objective standard of beauty, such as that expressed by St. Thomas Aquinas:
“Beauty, as St. Thomas says, is objective and has four attributes: truth, goodness, oneness and symmetry. Beauty, when comprised of these qualities, directs us to God…
“Truth can be seen in clothing [and, I would add, other forms of adornment] that identifies the wearer as a man or woman, his status and occupation, even his character and family. Goodness is in the quality of materials and fine workmanship, and in the modesty that respects the natural virtues. Oneness is in the completeness of the ensemble and the way it matches in an ordered way. Symmetry is the proportion, consistency and uniformity that comprise it.
See the images above and to the right, and below, for classic examples! Examples of the alternative are all too easy to find, and need not be dwelt upon.
“This can be applied to everything: music and architecture, furnishings in the home, work and crafts, words and manners, meals and dinner tables, beautiful prayers and good reading. Local traditions sustain cultural beauty in holidays, ceremonies and ways of being that began long ago when people turned to God and received a flow of grace to generations. This realization makes us love and keep alive tradition. Beauty is expressed in many cultures and is diverse since God’s creation is immense. However, beauty cannot go against the natural order.”
Traditionalism, the revolt against the excesses of the modern (and postmodern) age, is indeed the new counterculture. Be counter-cultural! Be a rebel! Vive la révolution nuvelle et ancienne! Ce qui est vieux est nouveau.
Note: the young woman pictured above may be the lovely and talented Marilena – looks a lot like her, but I’m not sure it actually is. At any rate, be sure to click through to the linked video to see an example of how a young woman can be flirty and irresistible, without being degenerate in the process!