Forget The Christmas Cups, Save The Family
So another day has come and gone, and another scandal has gripped the popular imagination. This time it is the decision of Starbuck’s to use a plain red cup devoid of any Christmas decoration for their holiday season coffee cup. I’ve found this entire business very frustrating to observe. Looking at the general principle of the matter, I am admittedly on side with the people up in arms over it. Removing Christmas imagery in the name of sensitivity and inclusiveness has always struck me as a very weak argument. I’ve certainly never been offended by being wished “Eid Mubarack” or “Happy Hanukah”, and likewise I’ve never encountered or heard of a Jew or Muslim or Hindu whose been hurt by being wished “Merry Christmas”; the greeting inevitably being taken for what it is, an expression of goodwill and kindness from one soul to another. The only people who really seem to be put out by such things are a particularly militant type of atheist who get upset by any public acknowledgement of religion at all, however well-intentioned, and tend to gang up mostly on Christians out of fear that criticism of other faiths might spark charges of racism or bigotry.
Despite my general agreement with the principle, however, I cannot bring myself to rouse much passion for the particulars. Ultimately, this is still just a disposable plastic coffee cup; one that did not feature genuine Christmas imagery such as the Nativity but instead stockings and reindeer and other symbols of Christmas the commercial holiday….hardly a hill I have much desire to die upon. Is Starbuck’s decision to ditch even this mild, watered down version of Christmas yet another example of a sacrifice before the altar of political correctness? Yes. Is it stupid? Also yes. Does it really matter that much in the grand scheme of things? Not really. Instead it begs the question for all our outraged culture warriors proclaiming the centrality of Christian faith to both themselves and Western identity of where they all were fifty, forty, or even thirty years ago when perhaps it might have made a difference?
It is a question I find myself repeating more and more often these days on a plethora of issues. From the Planned Parenthood videos to gay wedding cakes or gender neutral washrooms to campus “rape culture” tribunals, where were you when it might have mattered? Where were you when no-fault divorce was introduced and marriage was demoted to simply another set of living arrangements like having a college flatmate or renting out your spare bedroom on AirBnB? Where were you when the left, smugly smirking from the spires of the Cathedral, shattered morality and modesty into a million pieces during the Sexual Revolution? When the cult of happiness superseded all else and instant and momentary gratification and degenerative pleasure seeking was elevated to the sole purpose of existence? When abortion on demand became the norm? When motherhood and fatherhood became an inconvenience instead of an ideal? When tradition, faith, and allegiance to old ideals were one by one deconstructed and thrown aside? Where were you?
The simple answer is you were bought off. In the glow of the post-war boom it was easy to look away and to keep quite. Speaking up would have been difficult, and might have led to an uncomfortable confrontation, or at the very least have taken away from you enjoying the low-hanging fruit that was so plentiful and so ripe for the picking. And for so long as you were allowed to have that second car, and new television, and annual vacation to Hawaii you shut your eyes to the growing rot all around you. It was only when the good times themselves were taken away that you finally looked around and began to complain of the shoddy shambles society had become. You’ve walked down this road of the Enlightenment for decades and only now have you realized it has led you to a very dark and unhappy place. Now, when it’s too little, too late, you’ve finally found your voice and you use it to protest the most mild of the symptoms rather than tackling the disease, as if putting a candy cane back on a coffee cup would somehow fix the damage that has been done.
When the house is on fire there is no point in trying to save the stables. The very foundations of the house that is civilization need to be rebuilt, and then maybe we can worry about fixing up the front lawn. To do that, we must refocus on what truly matters and that is the family. Remarkably, there actually has been some positive news on that front. Here in Canada, under the previous Tory government we saw child benefits, payable directly to the family, introduced along with income splitting for couples (the latter has been rescinded by the new Liberal regime, sadly, but to their credit they have largely kept the former intact). Down south, Marco Rubio has made pro-family policies the center of his campaign. This is a beginning, but it does not go nearly far enough. Marriage, as an institution, must be reprivileged and parenthood resanctified. The libertine attitude preached by the Sexual Revolution and modern day feminism must be denounced and modesty and morality must be held up as ideals to be admired and not antiquated embarrassments to be apologized for. The militant atheist’s creed of fully rational, atomized individuality must be rejected and the supernatural welcomed back to the fold. Faith, tradition, and duty must be recognized for what they are, the structure that holds society together, and the radical individualism of modernity must be rejected for the false promise that it is.
Sounds daunting? Well what comes next will sound even more so. Any genuine progress on these matters will take far more than a simple tweaking of the tax code or reform of the family court system. To change society we will first have to change our own lives. Be a faithful husband and wife, and more importantly be a good parent to your children; raise them to be good people in turn. Go to Church, and when you leave actually live the lessons you are taught there. Live a moral life and speak out when you see others who do not. Don’t just express dismay at the symptoms but point the finger to the disease itself.
Society has become sick. We are weak, confused, and often very very alone. Most of us seem to have some sense of how very wrong it has all gone, but very few of us know why and ever fewer know the way back. And like sharks smelling blood, primeval and barbaric young men seek to tear apart the very last remnants of our civilization so they may impose their own vision, frightening and hateful as it is, on the blank canvass that will remain. It is time to stop obsessing over the trivial and instead focus on what matters. Forget the Christmas cups; we are playing for far higher stakes than that. Rome itself is burning in a blaze of its own creation and the barbarians are past the gates. It is by the light of a funeral pyre, however, that true illumination can often be found if only we dare to open our eyes and see it.