Many people are horrified at how woke ideologues have taken over the commanding heights of culture. Some of these captures occurred through subversion, but much of it was not planned. Learning from our past mistakes allows us perhaps to rectify the situation and prevent a similar problem in the future.
Significant intellectuals such as Dr. James Lindsay have studied the woke literature to detail its long march through the institutions, but almost no attention has been given to explaining how easy the rest of society made it – like smashing through open doors.
One of the seven classic deadly sins is acedia, which is often mistranslated into English as sloth. Its proper meaning is “losing focus of that which is important,” and sloth is just one particular case. History is full of stories about acedia. When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, his people had lost focus and started worshipping a golden calf. Similarly, when Jesus came back from prayer in Gethsemane, his disciples had lost focus and fallen asleep.
Ancient wisdom tells us to be eternally vigilant to prevent losing sight of what matters. Part of acedia is to abandon ancient wisdom. The radical left was able to influence culture with such ease because most had fallen asleep. There are many contributing factors – each, on its own, seemingly insignificant. After World War II, the Greatest Generation wanted to give their children the best possible opportunities in life. As good parents, they told their kids to go to college to get high-earning jobs. The girls were told to wait to get married and have children until they had a proper education.
This well-meaning advice had unintended consequences. Kids who left their small towns to go to university often never returned, and they did not find their parents and grandparents as regular parts of their community. In intergenerational communities, wisdom and tradition can more easily be maintained. College severed that connection.
Everyone was told to wait to have children. The result was that the gap between generations increased. People have children later in life, if at all. The result is that, while people live longer today, many have never met their great-grandparents.
In the 19th century, people homeschooled their kids, educated by people who loved them. Today, children are semi-orphaned in public schools. Parents are so busy chasing careers and material goods that they have left their most precious values in the hands of strangers.
The common theme of these unintended consequences is loss of connection, tradition, and wisdom. The glue of family and community that helped individuals become responsible adults has gradually eroded. The cohesion of the West could maybe survive all that, but now consider that in too many cases the strangers to which parents eagerly handed their offspring were radical leftists who hated America and Western values. Most of the kids thrown to the wolves never stood a chance.
A century of acedia has done intergenerational damage. However, the good news is that we are living through a time when the disastrous consequences are visible to so many that the process of repair can start. The solution is surprisingly simple: rebuild connection, tradition, wisdom, and community at home.