By Francis Finlayson
I was recently up at 3am, sunken into the worn-fibers of my basement sofa, writing an excruciatingly boring assignment regarding the nascent rise of paleo-conservatism in the western world. Mulling over the core concepts, I struggled to come up with the broader implications of the essay’s findings. What was there to realize that had not already been discovered? Paleo-conservatism posits that the proper response to perceived cultural or national degradation is an indignant propagation of that same culture or national identity. It is evident that such an ideology is gaining prominence due to varied political movements in the United States, throughout Europe, and even in Canada. At that moment, I lifted my gaze from the eye-straining blue light of my laptop, and towards the dimly lit but clearly visible Christmas tree in the far corner of the room. It is a small tree, no more than four feet tall, draped in crystal white lights, and donning a thin plastic star as its focal piece. That was it. I had it. The broader implications of paleo-conservatism’s ascent. It heralds a reassertion of true conservatism.
The joyous nature of the Christmas season comes from the year-long anticipation of its traditions, of which there are an incalculable number. To name only a few in no specific order, there are the Christmas decorations, the Christmas tree, the arrival of Christmas Day, the 12 days of Christmas, the Christmas Eve Mass, the Christmas parties, the Christmas caroling, the family get-togethers, the gift-giving, the charity events, the Advent calendar, the mistletoe, the movies, the music, and the food. Christmas itself is a religious tradition, a civic tradition, a Canadian tradition, and a tradition with idiosyncratic features depending on who celebrates it. Surely, I have forgotten many, but the point is that our families, friends, and communities look forward to Christmas because of what these traditions implicitly represent.
The Christmas Eve Mass brings together good-willed people to celebrate the birth of Christ and its bountiful ramifications, particularly the unification of mankind under God. During the service, parents, siblings, colleagues, friends, rich, poor, elders, infants, and everything in between sing, pray, and receive Communion together. This is kinship, a cornerstone of true conservatism, it is the idea that you are not simply an atomized individual navigating your way through life, rather you are part of an intergenerational collective that acts on, reacts to, and impacts each decision you make. Further, this collective kinship forms the foundation of your identity and encourages you to perpetuate it. We excitedly await Christmas Eve Mass and Christmas itself because of a longing to reunite with family and friends, while advancing affectionate kinship.
Putting up and decorating the Christmas tree illustrates a family history and the extensive blessings bestowed upon or acquired by the members of that family. While decorating the tree, parents, children, and additional relatives display shared memories, awards, achievements, and personal symbols of cherished aspects of life. This is gratitude, another pillar of true conservatism, it is the sentiment of appreciating the unique society you have inherited, and the benefits you have obtained from being raised within it. These benefits could be as intimate as a tight-knit community, or as frivolous as being able to play minor hockey. Gratitude imbues a genuine altruism towards others, as you seek to provide them with a similarly wholesome and advantageous upbringing. Naturally, this entails preserving the society, its institutions, and its traditions, of which Christmas is one.
Participating in and giving through Christmas charity events involves a community-based effort to alleviate the suffering of those coping with destitution. At these events, civic leaders and volunteers give time, money, and physical labour in pursuit of a larger goal prioritizing the accommodation of the material poverty or debilitating health conditions afflicting fellow residents. This is sacrifice, a third linchpin of true conservatism, it is a conviction that by inconveniencing or offering up yourself to greater actions or endeavours, your personal outlook or the future of the wider society can be ameliorated. Sacrifice instills a proclivity towards selflessness that was and continues to be vital in maintaining the functioning of society; for example, every building was constructed with the sweat of tradesmen, and every war was won by the blood of armed forces members. The giving spirit of Christmas crystallized by the charity events during the holidays reinforce the principle of sacrifice necessary for civilizational prosperity.
As I typed the final letters of the assignment, it was nearly 5am, and the sun had begun to peek in through the basement window. Exhausted and irritable, I stumbled to bed, even so, I was content that the painstaking analysis of paleo-conservatism was complete, and its inevitable implications elucidated. Feeling the encompassing warmth of the blankets and the squishy relapses of the pillow, I subsequently drifted towards desperately desired sleep. However, not without glancing once again at the dimly lit, four feet tall Christmas tree in the room’s far corner. It had revealed to me an insightful truth about paleo-conservatism during those academically- strenuous moonlit hours, that its emphasis on culture, identity, tradition, and values marked true conservatism. By examining Christmas, with its numerous traditions resting upon kinship, gratitude, and sacrifice, it became obvious that the communal bonds, dedication to preservation, and ambition towards improvement necessary for a thriving society is inextricably tied to those same intangible concepts. This Christmas take time to remember the foundations of the many traditions you will take part in and know that they are key to benevolent civilization itself.
*All arguments made and viewpoints expressed within Youth In Politics and its nominal entities do not reflect the views of the writers or the organization as a whole.
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