I was inspired to write this series in response to a trending notion of “historic aesthetic, not historic ethic” or “vintage style, not vintage values”.
In today’s post I will first discuss what traditional values are. Secondly I will discuss why they are important for healthy, happy and strong individuals, families and societies.
What Are Traditional Values?
Traditional values are “the moral and ethical principles which are held to promote the sound functioning of the family and to strengthen the fabric of society”. For example, they include faith, honesty, duty, respect and integrity.
Traditional values are universal and timeless. They do not pertain to one particular “culture” or “tradition”. That is to say that they are interwoven into the tradition of human culture as a whole.
Traditional values have been the foundation for every successful society in history. By the same token we can see that they are necessary for the health, happiness and strength of individuals, families and societies.
Why Are Traditional Values Important?
Traditional values have been held by humanity for generations upon generations. And for good reason. In particular they provide a framework for building strength, health, beauty and happiness into our human culture.
Throughout this series I will discuss the importance of specific traditional values in depth, one by one. But for now, here are a couple of quick examples:
- A successful relationship cannot be had without honesty and respect. And a community is built upon successful relationships. Without honesty and respect we lose friends, family and neighbors. We lose community.
- Skilled craftsman and artists cannot be made without the value of self-development. As a result of losing skilled craftsman and artists, we lose real beauty and detail in the things we make. Take for example the intricate details of historical architecture and dress. Or the artistic genius of Mozart’s music and Monet’s paintings. These great works, which take incredible skill, are not possible without valuing self-development.
What Are Modern Values?
Modern values are rather ambiguous. Furthermore, I suspect that most people who reject traditional values don’t really know what their values are. Regardless, there are several modern values that seem clear to me. They are as follows:
- Personal pleasure at all cost: self-love, the freedom to indulge in perversions, the freedom to be gluttonous, self-pride, and a general party spirit (everything must be fun!)
- Equal outcome for all: equality of effort, equality of material wealth, everyone gets the same result no matter what
There is a third which I did not get in the graphic above but that I would like to add:
- Convenience: less work needed to be done to survive, therefore more time can be spent pursuing personal pleasure
Now I do not wish to be unfair in my assessment of modern values. However, I see these values clearly as being the predominate modern values. At least in America. When I look at the things our modern culture fights for and promotes, these are the values that I see.
Why Traditional Values Are NOT to Blame For Historic Oppression:
There is a growing belief that traditional values are to blame for the horrors of slavery, racism and sexism. In addition, there are many who believe that Christianity is to blame.
Neither traditional values nor Christianity are to blame for these terrible things. Here is what truly is to blame: our sin nature.
Let’s look at the seven deadly sins for example. Lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, envy, wrath and pride. Don’t these things seem more likely to be the cause of the horrors and oppressions of human history?
Now I understand that without a Christian worldview there is no concept of a sin nature. But that is part of the problem. If we think we are perfect just as we are, then we have no explanation for evil. What is evil and where does it come from? Christianity gives us a solid answer to this key question.
While the entire Bible is about the origins of sin, the results of sin and the answer to sin (Jesus), here are two passages I find particularly relevant to today’s topic: Mark 7:21-23 and Romans 1:18-32.
What Are we Losing Along With Our Values?
Human beings are incredible. We are conscious spirits living in a physical body on a material planet in space. And God created us in his image. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). God gave us unique creative power and he gave us dominion over this earth.
And that power and dominion was evident in the way that humans lived for thousands of years. Humans learned to use the natural, God given materials of this earth to build exquisite homes and craft intricate furniture. To create beautiful garments to wear, inks, paper and feather quills to write, vessels of clay, wood and metal to use in many skilled crafts…But this evidence of our God given power and dominion started to slip away at some point. I am of the opinion that it was with the invention of cars and electricity. Because with these inventions we gave away a big part of our creative power to machines. This is a result of valuing convenience.
The more that we “progress” and cast away traditional values, the more of our humanness we lose. This is a difficult concept to explain. I plan to elaborate on it more throughout the rest of this series.
I have much to say about traditional values and why they are important. It is a big topic, and quite a serious one at that. I find this to be a difficult topic to address because it is intertwined with so many aspects of human nature. For that reason I plan to take my time doing this series.
To reiterate why I am doing this series, it is in response to the trending notion of “historic aesthetic, not historic ethic” or “vintage style, not vintage values”. I have been seeing this declared more and more among those with historical interests. For example historical costumers, reenactors, and historical food enthusiasts.
In between these posts will be my usual content of old-world recipes, handicraft tutorials and traditional skills.