No doubt it is largely because of my age, but in many places I feel almost as though we were successful barbarians who have taken over the ruins of a civilization that we have conquered.
Anthony Daniels, “Lusitania sinking”, The New Criterion, September 2023

I echo that sentiment when, like Daniels, I watch the current parade in our 21st century world. We worried about the crash of the internet when the millennium turned when we should have been paying attention to the perversion of everything good Western civilization created by the rabid Left—a small minority that has wreaked havoc by infiltrating our institutions, especially academia, while we in the majority fiddled & played in the sunlit uplands powered by the abundant, cheap energy of fossil fuels. We took for granted that younger generations would be grateful for their luck in being born in the right place in the right time, and forgot to pay attention to the lust for power so dominant in human history.

Sunrise in the neighbourhood

We fell asleep.
We forgot to study history because we were too busy playing. But Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Adorno, Marcuse channeled all their envy into the struggle for power, sometimes disguising it as a beneficial struggle for mankind, but often not bothering to camouflage their bloodthirsty lust for control. Naturally, as night follows day, their most rabid acolytes were the intelligentsia—the parasitical class that feasts off the body politic in their tenured ivy towers. Worst decision ever, granting professors’ tenure so they can spew nonsense—and treason—and never suffer an ounce of consequence for it.
We shut our ears when the Chinese Communist Party condemned all Olds—Old Ideas, Old Culture, Old Customs, Old Habits—and then tried not to see the bodies piling up in Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Now, we are trying desperately not to hear Islamic terrorists, with Hamas leading the pack at the moment, telling us loudly, clearly & often that they intend to kill all the Jews and then proceed to slaughter all the other infidels. They emigrate in their millions from their intolerant autocracies, and we welcome them to our tolerant liberal democracies. But instead of integrating into the mores of our Judeo-Christian values, they form ghettos—and very quickly demand we accept their values with a dramatically quick segue to demanding we live by their sharia values.

Are we awake yet?

To preserve our Western civilization—the best that has been devised by humans in our span of recorded history—we must wake up and robustly counter the radical Left’s relentless drive to destroy it.

We must reclaim the word ‘Woke’ to embody its true meaning of seeing what’s really going on around us, and exert the power of the majority to defeat the radical minority.

We must stop allowing this radical minority to use our principle of protecting minorities to inflict their socialist/communist/fascist tyranny on our Western liberal democracies.

We need to rediscover the difference between Myths and Logos.

Every civilization starts with myths, its way of interpreting the world. Myths are concerned with the timeless, the base upon which all religions are built. “Mythos was regarded as primary, the why of existence; it was what was concerned with what was thought to be timeless and constant in our existence. Myths looked back to the origins of life, to the foundations of culture, and to the deepest levels of the human mind,” according to Karen Armstrong in her book The Battle for God.

Logos, on the other hand, is concerned with man’s quest for understanding the way our world works, the how of existence. Logos “was the rational, pragmatic, and scientific thought that enabled men and women to function well in the world…unlike myth, logos must relate exactly to facts and correspond to external realities if it is to be effective’, and confusing the two is dangerous, warns Armstrong.

But that’s exactly what Western man started to do in the Middle Ages. Science became more & more dominant, leading to our present dilemma of the elevation of Logos to the primary position and the denigration of Mythos to superstitious nonsense. We moved from the humility of trying to discover God to the arrogance of thinking we were God in the span of 500 years. All I can say is: God help us!

We need to study history.

An essential step is going back to studying history—the good, the bad and the ugly—to understand our ancestors’ hard work to create our liberal democracies, When I think of just the recent history of my grandparents’ relentless hard work of breaking the land, then farming their Saskatchewan homesteads, followed by my parents’ farming and expanding its acreage, any self-pity I may have after a hard day’s work quickly evaporates. And I once again appreciate the gratitude growing up on a farm taught me.

But it’s not just their labour that we should celebrate. The rich culture we inherited is astounding: the Elizabethan drama of Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson; the Renaissance painting & sculpture of Michelangelo, da Vinci, Botticelli; the Austrian & German music of J.S. Bach through Beethoven with Haydn, Handel, Mozart in between; the French novels of Balzac, Flaubert, Stendhal, Zola, Proust, and the French impressionists seeing landscapes through different eyes. “Perhaps the most extraordinary of all was the great efflorescence in Russian literature in the 19th century, beginning with Pushkin, cresting with Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky and Turgenev, and ending with Chekhov, Isaac Babel and Osip Mandelstam—this in a country whose leaders, be they czars or Communist commissars, treated their own people as if they were a conquered nation,” Joseph Epstein writes in “Whatever Happened to Culture?” in Commentary, September 2023. And I have to agree.

As important as art—theatre, painting & sculpture, music, literature—so, too, are the manners & civilities of public & private life. One of the giants in depicting this civility is Jane Austen. “In Austen’s analysis of human frailty and frivolity, nastiness and nobility, manners play an important role and offer something unique to contemporary readers…. Austen shows us the value of gentlemanly and ladylike behaviour according to a time-honoured tradition,” writes Walker Larson in “Manners and Miss Austen”, The Epoch Times, July 27-August 2, 2023.

Too many now consider manners of any sort to be stifling, and think it imperative to let it all hang out, more often showing the ugliness of the human animal rather than its beauty. Manners grew out of a respect for the dignity of our fellow humans, not an affectation to superiority as so many interpret them in today’s culture, which often descends to the crudest—that is, uncivilized—behaviour.

We need to recapture the old in the setting of the new…

…and just one way of doing this—a way I am intimately familiar with—is preserve & cherish old things of value: our house. Built in 1925, our arts & crafts house was one of the first on its street in Scarboro, the westernmost of the three communities built on CN land on the south side of the Bow River in the early years of Calgary. Its basic exterior structure has changed little over its century of life, and we’ve kept its interior design basically intact. It was designed with ‘public’ spaces—the living room, dining room & kitchen—and ‘private’ spaces—the den & the upstairs.

We enclosed the porch to have a foyer, a necessary space to take off boots in our long winters of snow & slush. We replaced the doorway with an archway, matching the original one into the dining room, to open up the central hallway. We enlarged the main bathroom to include a separate shower stall and install greenhouse windows that flood it with light, making it a delight to bathe in all year round.

And we transformed the yard, a public frontscape to showcase the house and a private backscape to create a courtyard with a pool for our own little oasis in the centre of the city.

I loved the house when we first saw it in 1971, and I still love it 50+ years later. Its spaces enchant—the living room with its elegant proportions; the dining room with its original light fixture; the wrought-iron railing on the central stairs, up & down; the spacious, but separate kitchen; and upstairs, the dormer windows with a windowseat in the master bedroom and a curving desk in my office.

The spaces worked well when we moved in with two little boys, who shared a bedroom for the first 10 years, then each had their own as teenagers. When they grew up and moved away, their bedroom became my office and the other one reverted to being the guest room. The beauty of the space is that it nicely accommodated four, and then just as nicely accommodated the two of us with never a feeling of rattling around in too much space.

We need to rekindle our pride in Western civilization.

As the anti-Western hordes—perversely led by our elites in the academy, business & government—try frantically to tear down everything white & Western, we must constantly remind them of our accomplishments. Lionel Shriver in “Google’s new AI app erases white people,” The Spectator World, March 1, 2034, pens the perfect riposte: “It’s a matter of considerable inconvenience for anti-western westerners that the abundance of recent human advancement—in science, medicine, technology—has been made by those horrible white people. The enduring titans of the arts, philosophy and literature are dead white males: Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Rembrandt; Beethoven, Bach, Mahler; Plato, Aristotle, Kierkegaard; Tolstoy, Dickens. Flaubert. No amount of playing God at Google can efface the disproportionate achievements of European civilization and its diaspora—which, as I’ve argued before—belong to everyone.”

So let’s stop apologizing. We Western citizens must once again celebrate the civilization our ancestors wrought over many centuries of hard work & struggle. While continuing to strive to improve, we know our civilization is a beacon of hope to the many still mired in barbarism, the horrific example currently embodied by Hamas in Gaza. As Peter W. Wood summarized in “The fight for civilization in higher education,” The Spectator World, February 14, 2024: “We are civilized because we recognize a sovereign God of justice and mercy. We are civilized because we recognize that the universe is governed by laws that can be discovered through rational inquiry. We are civilized because we have harnessed the powers of literacy and mechanical innovation. We are civilized because we conceive all of humanity as possessing fundamental dignity.”

Time to wake up…

…and slay the hydra-headed monster attempting to destroy the best civilization in human history.