The modern world conceives everything as part of a conflict. Modernity is continual struggle against nature, fate, and the bonds of history. Its proponents encourage us to break ties to all things that “hold us back.” It is not always certain what they hold us back from: progress, surely; presumably a higher destiny–though it might as easily be suicide. Young people are encouraged to sever connections to family, faith, and the home town. Not to repudiate them, perhaps, but to regard them as quaint accidents of one’s history from which one’s present existence is to be quite distinct and separate. We ask “where are you from?” and assume that you no longer live there.
Young people ought to see the world, but not so that they may abandon the narrowness of their natal place and people. “Seeing the world” should be an illumination, allowing them to better appreciate their own folk and homes in a wider context of culture and geography. Likewise, they should study as children the character and history of their own family, region, and associated traditions, even as they also traverse in study the beauty and history of the greater world. Otherwise, “seeing” the world will be for them an exercise in blindness, obscuration, self-frustration. The world they will see, distorted by the false expectations of a rootless education, will be as unknown to them as another planet; its inhabitants as strange as an alien species. They will encounter this world with a shock that leaves them bewildered and bereft of their rightful inheritance; homeless orphans without horizons. It is one sin to insulate children from the facts of history and the greater world; it is another sin to blind them to its kinship with them, their own people, and the places they know. If they are not “at home” at home, they will not be able to be “at home” anywhere. Today’s educators make a fetish of youth; but do not trust the young until they have securely hitched them to the secular wagon and muffled their imaginations with skepticism. But I would that they truly see, with minds sharp as razors, hearts soft with fraternal kindness, and eyes alive to beauty.