This doesn’t mean that some sort of return to an Edwardian, hierarchical society is desirable. But we do need a world in which we respect and emulate those who know more than us or are wiser than we are, or who practice amazing generosity, humility, or self-sacrifice. We need to honor traditions that have evolved, rather than chucking each of these into the dustbin of history.
As faiths and families have faltered, what we have is a society of atoms. With civility torn asunder, local autonomy usurped, traditions upended and genders deconstructed, we should not be surprised that we are divided and drifting as well, like flotsam and jetsam in the ocean.
Think about California, which has always been what the United States will be in a couple decades. This state helped pioneer today’s new world, a world of egalitarianism, relativism, identity politics, avocado toast, surfing, free love and flip flops. Of course, not all of these are bad (though I never caught on to either surfing or avocado toast). But what emerged from California—think Hollywood and Silicon Valley for starters—has some responsibility for the cultural drift in our country and the loss of “forms” in our modern era.
Colorado is very much a “wear your best jeans out to dinner” kind of state. But I’ve taught my sons that if the event involves a judge, a bride, or a casket, then put on a tie.