I have the feeling that we've seen the dismantling of civilisation, brick by brick, and now we're looking into the void. We thought that we were liberating people from oppressive cultural circumstances, but we were, in fact, taking something away from them. We were killing off civility and concern. We were undermining all those little ties of loyalty and consideration and affection that are necessary for human flourishing. We thought that tradition was bad, that it created hidebound societies, that it held people down. But, in fact, what tradition was doing all along was affirming community and the sense that we are members one of another. Do we really love and respect one another more in the absence of tradition and manners and all the rest? Or have we merely converted one another into moral strangers -- making our countries nothing more than hotels for the convenience of guests who are required only to avoid stepping on the toes of other guests?
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Spoken by one of the characters in Alexander McCall Smith's Espresso Tales, the second novel in his wonderfully evocative series 44 Scotland Street:
Posted by Bob at 1:22 PM