A Defense of Western Culture
Sometimes its called the Occident, The West or even Christendom, but we’ll refer to it as Western Culture. So what is it? Broadly speaking, its the culture inherited by the people on the Western part of the Earth. However, exactly which regions and people are part of that culture is a little bit fuzzy, since cultures vary throughout time and place and develop differently even when they come from the same trunk. But its safe to say that North America, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, Latin America and most of Europe along with Australia and New Zealand share this Western Culture.
As defined in our previous episode, a culture encompasses the general history, customs, art, attitudes and beliefs of a people. While a society is the group of currently living people who reside in the same region or country and run the current social and governmental institutions. So the society are the people while the culture are the ideas and customs of that people.
As such, Western Culture is not limited to the West, since other people of other societies can adopt Western Culture or elements of Western Culture regardless of their geological position on the planet. In fact, Western Culture did not entirely begin within the West. Its origins come from Jerusalem, Ancient Greece- Athens in particular- and later Ancient Rome.
So Western Culture describes the culture of a large group of people, who spread and settled generally in the West. This we can call the “historical aspect”. But it is also shorthand for a series of values that either developed or thrived with these people and have been very successful in many areas, including that of economics, science and philosophy, to name a few. This we can call this the “values aspect”. But of course, we at the FALFA Project are most interested in the values pertaining to spiritual freedom and political liberty. When we say Western Culture, we can mean either the historical or values aspect, or both.
The ancient Jewish people gave the West the old testament, or the Torah, which declares the universe as ordered and created by a good God, and does not view humanity as an accident or as slaves, as many ancient origin stories and religions did. It also identified God as the source of morality and gave us the ten commandments and other fundamental moral and spiritual tenants of Western Culture. The ancient Greeks gave us philosophical reasoning and principles like natural law, among other things. The Catholic Church then expounded on all these and went about the business of evangelizing the world, becoming the official religion of the Roman Empire, after initially persecuted her.
The Catholic Church
So the Catholic Church was a major force in the Western world- preserving the documents of Holy Scripture, producing great theological and philosophical minds, as well as great art, music and literature. The Catholic Church also preserved the knowledge of the ancient Greeks, including the philosophies of Plato, Socrates and Aristotle, which are also essential to Western Culture, and set up the university system to disseminate knowledge.
So great was the influence of ancient Greece on Catholicism that the Church even uses the philosophy of Aristotle to explain the transformation of bread and wine into the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, which is the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ in the aforementioned forms.
Catholic theologian Tertullian worried about such influence contaminating the Church. He famously asked “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?”, a fair question in the first centuries of the Church. Indeed, this relationship between the Divine and the Pagan was rocky at times. Yet, far from becoming a detriment, Greek thought enriched the Church’s understanding and ability to reason, expound and explain many of her teachings. This is consistent with Christianity, as long as we understand the primacy of divine revelation and the harmony that must exist between both. This kind of worldview is what led to many of the spectacular developments in the Western world.
The Inequality of Cultures
Every culture has elements of what is good, true and beautiful and every culture has a historical aspect that pertains to its people- a record of its peoples’ history, along with its general customs and art. This is the identity of a people and these elements are always worth preserving, including for Western Culture.
In this sense, all cultures are equally worth preserving, just as, for instance, your personal history is as worthwhile preserving for you as my personal history is worth preserving for me, regardless of the lives we’ve led, because these histories inform our personal identities. That doesn’t mean that our histories are equally significant in the world- some people contribute more than others. But everyone should remember their history, as it is part of who they are. Similarly, everyone should at least remember their culture- where they came from and what their ancestors did- because it is part of who they are.
However, as with people, not all cultures have contributed equally in the world, nor do all cultures have equally good values. Some values are better than others, and so in this sense, some cultures are better than others. To deny this is to deny reality and to deny objective truth. We’ve all known people in the world who have been objectively more successful than others- some in business, some in family, some in the spiritual sense. We would not say that the life of a drunkard is equal to that of a happy family man. If we wish to be successful in life, we would be wise to adopt the values and techniques of those we consider successful.
To suggest that anything can be superior or inferior is to violate the principle tenant of political correctness, a concept that tears down objective truth and genuine human achievement for the sake of a bland and pretend same-ness that suffocates the human spirit. There is nothing wrong with admitting that some things are simply better than others and there is nothing wrong with competing with others to make them even better. Both cooperation and competition are ways of improving society.
Immigration and Culture
When someone immigrates to a Western country, he is looking for something better. Now, in some cases, it may have nothing to do with the culture- the person may be looking to be geographically closer to a loved one, for instance. But more often than not, people leave their country looking for a better culture. They may be looking for economic opportunity and mobility- and thus indirectly, the culture which fosters such opportunities which were unavailable in their own country. Politics too, is heavily influenced by a country’s culture.
An immigrant may be looking for freedom to practice their religion in peace, or the liberty to homeschool their children or to start their own business or simply to find good work opportunities. In any case, when someone leaves their country looking for something better, there is an implicit acknowledgment that the country they are moving to, and thus its culture, is somehow superior to their own. Their country, and thus their culture, has failed them, and they are looking for something better. People don’t go through all the life-changing trouble to relocate to another country if their own is functioning well enough for them.
I have much respect for other cultures, yet I have no shame in saying that Western Culture is superior, when it comes to the values of freedom and liberty. That does not mean that a person or group must forsake their own cultural identity. To support and adopt Western Culture does not mean wiping out other cultures in favor of that of the West. It doesn’t mean replacing Asian art with Western art or traditional Asian buildings with modern Western ones. The world would be terribly boring and soulless if every corner looked the same. Rather, adopting Western Culture means adopting the values that have made the West so successful, while keeping what is good, true and beautiful of your own unique culture.
If another culture superseded the West in discovering and applying higher principles of liberty, for instance, or even better technology or a new, beautiful art form, I would gladly borrow those values and discoveries to integrate them into Western Culture. In fact, as we’ve seen, that is partly why Western Culture has been so successful- because it has integrated and developed what works, regardless of its source. The great thing is that it is available to all people of the world, including to the very Westerners who are ashamed, apathetic or actively hostile to their own culture.
Decline of the West
In spite of all its achievements, hostility towards Western Culture by its own people became clearly and seriously manifest in the 1960s, though its seeds had been sown much earlier, particularly in the 18th century and after the first and second world wars. You see, it seems that every culture, as every person, carries its own own potential seeds of destruction. So while the essence of our culture is good, it also carries contradictory and flawed ideas that are capable of destroying that essence.
When philosophers started to try to divorce morality from God, this had a detrimental effect on society and eventually trickled down to the populous. The theories of Friedrich Nietzsche and Karl Marx, for instance, are antithetical to the Judeo-Christian roots of Western Culture, though historically-speaking, they are also Western ideologies.
In spite of its historic role in preserving and promoting Western Culture and Judeo-Christian values, since the 1960s, especially after the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church has been severely compromised in her ability to guide and influence the world towards Christ. In fact, today it is the Church which has been influenced by the world, rather than the other way around. It is not an accident that the world has become increasingly ashamed, apathetic and then hostile towards both Christ and Western Culture.
Starting at about that time, academia, that is colleges and universities, as well as K-12 education, have become increasingly anti-Western, devoting more time to teaching diversity rather than the essential and great works of Western Culture. Not only that, but they actively teach students that the United States and the West in general is evil. And they often decline to emphasize or teach classical logic and thinking skills which would disabuse them of such fallacies.
In turn, both entertainment and news media, inhabited by people who graduate from such universities and have been heavily steeped in this anti-Western ideology, have also turned against Western Culture. And lately, it is clear that one of the two political parties in the United States has also turned its back on Western Culture through its embrace of Marxist theories.
In short, the values and even history within Western Culture have been largely abandoned in our time- not as much of it is being passed on to new generations and it is certainly not emphasized. Furthermore it has been increasingly vilified. So it is not hard to see why so many people these days, mostly unaware of their own history and unaware of how they have been influenced by these institutions, would question, be ashamed, apathetic or even hostile towards Western Culture.
The Oppression of the West: Intersectionality
This hostility to Western Culture is usually justified with the claims that it has been oppressive, either to groups of people or to all people, and has been especially aggressive, greedy and uncaring for some in society. But these claims are made in a vacuum, with no historical or global context, with no comparison or objectivity. In fact, to some, these claims are unfalsifiable- for merely challenging them proves that you are an oppressor. This is a common technique to shut down debate for those who cannot justify their beliefs or have been swept up in a sea of emotion and are unable to reason. We’ve come to the point that even such basic things as logic and reasoning are seen as oppressive and racist.
Defenders of the West are accused of being white nationalists or white supremacists, as if culture had a race. It does not, except for accidents of time and place. Culture transcends racial boundaries. The fact that the majority of Westerners are of lighter skin does not mean that Western Culture is limited to light-skinned people. And yet, the very people who falsely insert race into such a debate and decry it as racist then insist on chopping up and defining society according to race, ethnicity and a hundred other categories. They don’t see the transcendental good, true and beautiful, they don’t see the struggle between good and evil which knows no race. Our values dictate equality onto the law, regardless of race.
Some say that there are too many “dead white men” on the syllabus, and that it should be diversified with more people of different races and more women. But it is logical to conclude that Western Culture will have been created by Westerners, which for most of history will be white men. This is not an offense to people of different skin tones. The history of an African nation will probably involve mostly black men, and that should not surprise or insult a white man.
Besides, why is prejudice against white men okay while prejudice against black men forbidden? I will tell you why: Because this is an anti-Western ideology that does not hold that “all men are created equal”, but rather that some people should be elevated above others, according to the racial or minority group they belong to, and that what they view as the dominant race, the white race, and dominant culture, that is, Western Culture, is oppressive and must be destroyed. This is antithetical to the principles of freedom and liberty. It is this distorted ideology that is truly oppressive and racist, not Western Culture.
Some people, threatened by the rhetoric of “identity politics” which peddles the likes of “Black identity” and “Hispanic identity”, push back with the idea of “white culture”, “whiteness” or “white identity”, again confusing Western Culture with racial identity. This is a predicable effect of such toxic and divisive rhetoric. If you feel that you are not represented and are constantly being lambasted by mainstream media, academics and politicians, it is natural to adopt a defensive posture that defends your own group identity. But this simply plays into the very toxic rhetoric that created the division in the first place. It is an error, at best, and a dangerous one that can cause much suffering. Galatians 3:28 says:
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Our identity as children of God is our deepest one. But this Biblical truth also applies to those who believe in the principles of liberty. We are united in our principles, in the type of people we choose to be, not in our racial particular race, sex, ethnicity or other wordly categorizations.
The Oppression of the West: Patriarchy
The West is also accused of being a patriarchy which oppresses women and diminishes them in different disciplines. There are patriarchies which oppress women, such as those in some Muslim countries which reject Western values, where women hardly have any say in society or even in their own homes and are often mistreated without any real legal recourse. Western nations, on the other hand, have made great strides in acknowledging the value and rights of women in society.
But patriarchies are not inherently evil and women continue to be different than men and often have naturally different inclinations and roles in society and choose different paths. It is not that these roles and paths are less important than those which men tend to choose, but they are normally less visible, as women have traditionally taken care of the home and children, for instance. The fact is that, in the past, most women were not involved in great public works. And as sure as sin, sometimes women were unfairly marginalized. However, whatever the case was, it is the greatness of a work, not the sex, race or diversity of its author, which should determine its importance in culture.
Given the natural course of time, as Western Culture is adopted by more and more people, it is likely that there will be more diversity in the authors of great works. But this takes time, and it makes no sense to artificially inflate diversity at the cost of quality.
Truth be told, often those who rage against Western Culture do not value diversity of race or sex or even so-called “sexual orientation” if the authors actually side with the values of the West. For their plight is not one for liberty or diversity, but one against the values of Western Culture, especially that of its morality, which is fixed not on man’s whims, but on God, the ultimate law-giver and source of meaning. Many people belonging to “minority groups” such as blacks and Hispanics or even people who identify as gay are not celebrated nor welcomed in the mainstream when they express ideas supportive of classical Western values. There are many examples, from Economist Thomas Sowell to Surgeon Dr. Ben Carson to political commentator David Ruben.
An Imperfect History
History is not a neat and tidy thing. History will not fully please any particular ideology or theory. Anyone who tells you so is either not being honest or lacking in details himself. One will inevitably find contradictions, embarrassments and deficiencies when trying to defend any particular ideology, theory or organization in history. Sometimes the good guys aren’t so good, even when their causes are noble and just. And sometimes the bad guys act more rightly than those with the noble cause. Furthermore, history is never a perfectly straight line of progression towards good.
But when one takes a step back to look at the big picture throughout time and place, it is clear that certain values and principles are good and superior to the rest. Our duty to truth demands that we admit when we have done wrong and not try to deny or downplay injustices by the West. Likewise, we should admit what is good, true and beautiful in our culture.
Yes, there is racism in the West, as in anywhere else in the world. But far from being oppressive, Western Culture has contributed to the greatest amount of economic freedom and liberty in the world and has spread the word of God to so many who were previously in the dark. It is the tradition that ended slavery, even so far as to wage war against it, at the cost of the lives of mostly white men.
Western Culture does not enslave people, it liberates them, it constrains power, which is very inconvenient to those who wish more power for themselves and to enslave others. Why do so many nations become oppressive and why do so many of their people flock to Western nations, seeking a better life with greater liberty and opportunity?
Liberty Not Guaranteed
And yet, that liberty and opportunity is threatened when the culture that informs it is threatened. When the foundations of Western Culture are are being hollowed out classroom by classroom and generation by generation, eventually the entire social and legal structure that sits atop will collapse. Reason, faith and history will tell you this, but there is a strong psychological bias towards believing that things will always remain more or less the same, especially when the alternative is terrible. It is not a matter of “if”, but “when”, if this trend is not soon reversed.
Our culture is essential to our liberty. Without it, we lose our understanding of liberty and its principles. Under the pretext of justice, tolerance and academic sophistication our values have been progressively undermined since the 1960s, leading to such shame, apathy and hostility.
This is one of the ways in which the forces of evil work to corrupt and enslave people. If anyone wanted to enslave and rule over us, a direct military attack would likely fail. But a people who are apathetic, ashamed or hostile towards their own culture and history are an easily conquered people. After all, what do they have to protect, if they don’t think there’s anything worth protecting? If you think your culture is racist and evil, why defend it at all? What better way to conquer a people than to completely demoralize them to the point that they will no longer defend their culture and its principles?
Why defend your tradition against any other, especially if it requires extra effort on your part, and will incur negative consequences against you in your personal life, at work, online and even with the government. And yet, that is exactly what we must do. We must defend Western Culture and the principles of freedom and liberty today if we want to have a chance of having liberty tomorrow.
The irony is that most of those who are fooled into being ashamed of Western Culture, or into hating it, don’t realize that it is our own Western Values that are being turned against us. Racism and intolerance are against Western values and that is why we sympathize so much with those who are oppressed and have experienced intolerance and racism. We want to stand with the oppressed and defend them. However, those who stand against the West, stand against these values. Will they truly stand with the oppressed, no matter what their race, sex or religion? Or do they represent only specific sections of society, wrong or right? Is it a love of people that unites them, or a common hatred of the West?
The Oppression of the Rest
Injustice, cruelty and profoundly sinful behaviors were hardly unique to the West and its easy to lose perspective when we’re not told the whole truth. Take the following examples:
1. When Spanish conquistadors landed in the Americas, they witnessed the Incas offering child sacrifices to the gods. While this was considered an honor and the children were freely given for such sacrifice, the cost was the tragic death of many children to false gods. Was this society really better off than European society? Was it really better off without the Divine revelation of the one true God, who not only does not ask for human sacrifices, but abhors them? The Incas also harassed, invaded and conquered their neighbors.
2. The Aztecs were even more brutal with their sacrifices. They were skilled warriors who waged war on their neighbors to expand their territory and collect victims for human sacrifice. The sacrifice could be done in one of three ways. They could decapitate the victim, have him fight elite warriors or have a “priest” use an obsidian knife to open him up from the throat all the way down the stomach and rip out his still-palpitating heart from his chest, after which the rest of the body was pushed down the temple. They sacrificed thousands of people every year to their supposed “gods” this way. In fact, it was the resentment of this horrific abuse and oppression which allowed conquistador Cortez to defeat the Aztecs, as their many enemies were happy to join up with Cortez to defeat them.
3. Africans too, had their brutal tribal wars and took captured enemies from other tribes as slaves. When Europeans entered into the transatlantic slave trade, they generally purchased African slaves from other African tribes who brought them to the coast for that purpose. Up to 15% of these captured men died just on their way to the coast, which could be a journey of up to 300 miles from where they were captured.
4. Natives American tribes were often at war with each other and would scalp and dismember their enemies. Some launched “mourning wars” to capture prisoners for women who had lost a son or husband, where the tribe captured male warriors from an enemy tribe to replace the person lost. If the man was not deemed fit, he could be tortured and killed. Native American villages before European contact were fortified at great cost to defend from attack.
Torture was also performed on prisoners in order to calm the souls of people who had experienced violent deaths. Prisoners were tied to a post and his fingernails were pulled and then burned at the stake. Sometimes, if the prisoner was deemed courageous, they would tear out his heart, grill it and give it to their children to promote courage.
5. Of course, even when Europeans were involved, they were not always the aggressors. They were not the only ones to initiate conflicts and conquer people. Tamerlane or Timur, the Muslim conqueror from Central Asia who lived from 1336 to 1405, was known for his military conquests and particularly for his barbarity and brutality against those he made enemies. On one of his campaigns, he invaded the Eastern European country of Georgia, for instance, destroyed its capital and almost all major cities and massacred an innumerable amount of its people. He had Churches and monasteries and even country towns burned down to the ground. Many more died afterwards from lack of food and diseases.
Other Turks invaded and occupied Greece and the Balkans for hundreds of years. Arabs also invaded Spain and occupied it for hundreds of years. And the Mongols invaded China and parts of Russia and central Europe. You see, Europeans were not the only ones invading, conquering and enslaving people. This was simply a standard affair in the world.
6. But the atrocities of non-Western cultures are not limited to ancient history. In 1937, the Japanese Imperial Army invaded the Chinese city of Nanjing and massacred an enormous amount of people. Some estimate that there were over 300,000 people massacred, but even low estimates start at about 40,000 people. These were unarmed Chinese men, women and children. When the Japanese came in, the Chinese soldiers were overwhelmed and surrendered quickly. The rest were non-combatants. They also raped thousands of women, looted the city and towns nearby and burned down over a third of all their buildings. This has come to be known as the Nanjing or Nanking Massacre, sometimes also referred to as the Rape of Nanjing. After the massacre, many Japanese officials tried to deny that it even took place.
You see, Europeans did not invent sin. The people outside Europe already lived in a world full of sin. Westerners don’t have a monopoly on cruelty and injustice. Unfortunately, all of mankind shares in that legacy.
The West’s Achievements
Most Westerners don’t know their history very well, especially when it comes to their achievements. You see, Western culture is responsible for the scientific method and modern science. So if you like science or have benefited from it, as we all have, you owe a debt to the West. Indeed, Western Culture has lead to almost all the medical breakthroughs in our time, from germ theory to antibiotics to X-Rays to MRIs. Western Culture is responsible for the Industrial Revolution, which produced the light bulb and the automobile. The West is responsible for the discovery and utilization of electricity as a power source and all modern electronics. That means the invention of radio broadcasting, television, movies, the vacuum tube, the integrated circuit, the personal computer, the Internet and the World Wide Web, just to name a few things.
The invention of new technologies and power sources and the embrace of the free market (that is, capitalism) lead the West to an economic growth never seen before in humanity. Dirt-poor poverty, which was the norm for most people in the world, became a thing of the past in the West. Starvation, which was unfortunately common, became the exception. Mortality rates plunged thanks to these new technologies and better living conditions. And most people in the West live a quality of life, materially speaking, beyond those of the kings and queens of yesteryear.
The East is following in the footsteps of the West and raising the quality of life of their people also. How? By adopting at least some of these Western values. Basically, the West is responsible for most of modern society. What may sound like an arrogant boast is true, and one should hardly be surprised that there is some envy and even hostility to accompany it. Critics of the West are quick to point out its wrongdoings, real and imagined, but they seem unwilling to credit Western Culture for its considerable contributions to the world. Rather than engage in destructive attitudes, we should cherish Western Culture and extend it to whomever wants it.
Why the West leapfrogged every other culture in so many ways is a question worthy of research and careful analysis. We do know that for about 600 years till the 14th century the Muslim world embraced the Greek principles of reason and became leaders in philosophy and science before, for some reason, later abandoning those principles and their success. In fact, it was in the 11t h-century that Persian Muslim philosopher Al-Gha-zalı further developed the Kalam Cosmological argument based on Aristotle’s principles. This argument was later lost for centuries in popular discourse until Christian philosopher and apologist William Lane Craig picked it up again in 1979, and it has been popular ever since.
So the issue is most certainly not a superiority of race or ethnicity, but a superiority of ideas, concepts and culture. Yes, the values of Western Culture are superior to the values in many other cultures and has produced the results to prove it throughout history. Some Westerners may feel arrogant about this and act thus, which is a regrettable thing, as we should not be arrogant, but humble for being given this gift and prosperity. Humility and gratitude is what God and his prophets continually call his people to.
While some Westerners may regrettably feel and act arrogantly about this, truth be told, today Westerners are more likely to feel ashamed of their culture, rather than arrogant, or proud, as they should.
St. Aquinas said that “the unknown cannot be loved” and that “love follows knowledge”. Most of us do not only not know our culture, but we “know” things about it that are not true, because they are told to us by mainstream professors, personalities and “experts” who purport to be objective and fair, but in reality have a worldview and value system that fundamentally assumes Western values and Culture are wrong. This is not the same as opposing past and even present injustices, that indeed uphold the Western values of equality and due process, for instance. No, the mainstream has come to oppose the very foundations of our civilization, and nothing good can come from that. How can we fault the average citizen for not loving his culture and country?
Pride, Not Sin
Westerners should be proud of their culture, but let me to clarify. Pride is a word which, unfortunately has not only several distinct definitions, but two polar opposite ones, spiritually speaking. In its negative sense, it is considered one of the seven capital vices or sins. It replaces humility with self-glorification, which cuts us off from the grace of God and causes spiritual death.
Whatever is good, true and beautiful in Western Culture is from God, either directly, or as a result of the gift of reason and the desire for these transcendentals which he has placed in our hearts. Arrogance and put downs are a betrayal of the values we hold most dear and of the centrality of God in our culture. God calls us to be perfect but also humble. To paraphrase Matthew 5:48:
“We must be perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect”
and as Proverbs 11:2 says:
“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.”
There is no contradiction in humbly saying, “Let me teach you a better way; Let me teach you about true freedom and liberty.” In fact, when we have a better way, it is our moral duty to teach our brother, if he allows us so, in so far as we can, in friendship and in love.
To have pride is not to be blind, though, nor to think that we are perfect. It does not mean that we’re happy with everything our governments are doing or that we shouldn’t right wrongs or oppose wrongdoings because they are done under the flag of a country. Proper pride is a love and to love is to seek the good, not to excuse the evil and the mediocre.
The West & Liberty
Of all its achievements, the West’s greatest achievement is that of political liberty. To speak of the principles of spiritual freedom and political liberty is to speak of the proper values of Western Culture. Rule of Law, negative rights, the equality of all men and women, self-governance, religious tolerance and freedom, color-blindness, natural law, freedom of speech, the separation of governmental powers, a trial by a jury of peers, and the acknowledgment of God as the source of morality and natural rights are some of the principles of liberty that Western Culture has given to us.
From the Magna Carta to the United States Constitution, the West has a tradition of advancing liberty, in spite of obvious abuses and setbacks common to an imperfect and sinful human nature shared by all people. An attack on Western Culture is not an attack on a group of people, but an attack on the values and principles of freedom and liberty itself.
If there’s anything essential missing in Western Culture, it is because we’ve gotten away from genuine spirituality and religion and have become enamored and obsessed with our gadgets, material wealth and comforts instead. But this is not a manifestation of our Western values, but rather a deviation from them. Our culture becomes disordered when we replace its center with anything but God. The free market is good, but it is not God and should not be worshiped. Apart from ignorance, hatred, Anarchists and Marxists, it is materialism and globalism which today threaten to tear our society apart.
A Love of Western Culture
I have given you many reasons to love Western Culture- it’s innumerable and great achievements, and what’s at stake if we reject it. But perhaps the purest reason to love it is because it is ours, either because we are Westerners or because, regardless of where we’re from, we love the values of the West.
You see, there is a natural love for one’s family, place of birth and culture that is good. You love it because it is yours. And in pouring your love into it it becomes greater. This, as I understand it, was one of the arguments of English author Gilbert Keith Chesterton. He said that:
“People first paid honour to a spot and afterwards gained glory for it. Men did not love Rome because she was great. She was great because they had loved her.”
Chesterton believed that this love should not be tied to any other particular reason, but rather that this love should transcend other reasons. He said that a “rational optimism leads to stagnation”, but that an “irrational optimism leads to reform”, that is, a betterment, of the country or thing in question.
“A man belongs to this world before he begins to ask if it is nice to belong to it. He has fought for the flag, and often won heroic victories for the flag long before he has ever enlisted. To put shortly what seems the essential matter, he has a loyalty long before he has any admiration.”
Perhaps it is not so much that the culture belongs to us, but rather that we belong to the culture. In any case, it is love which makes something great, and we should not be surprised at the decadence of our culture when we bear no love for it, when we are ashamed of it and when we feel even hatred for it.
We have lost our love for the West and it is not by happenstance. We are under attack by the forces of evil, both human and demonic. Let us grow in love for God, for good values and eternal principles and for our culture and our countries, so that they may return the sweet fruit of love and greatness, not the toxic fruit born of hatred, apathy and shame. The reward is too great to ignore and the consequences of not doing so are too terrible to confront.
References & Further Reading
Two worthwhile videos on the subject are Why the West Won and Why has the West been so successful?
We mentioned the sin of pride and what St. Aquinas said about love. For love of country, see what Chesterton’s said in Othodoxy, especially in the chapter “Flag of the World”.
You can learn more about the Aztecs from the following sources:
History.com, Encyclopedia Britannica, Ancient.eu (1), Ancient.eu (2) and anthropology.msu.edu and about the Incas here, and Native Americans here.
We mentioned the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the Nanjing-Massacre and we also talked about the Scientific Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, electricity and modern standards of living.