This spring thousands of graduates coming out of the high schools and colleges across the South will be hearing a similar message:

Go far!  Dream big!  Succeed!  Break the mold!

But we hope they will not listen to it.  We hope they will do the opposite:

Stay home, dream small, be content, be unknown.

The duty of the young is not to be trailblazers, to turn the world upside-down with new discoveries, etc.  It is rather to do their part, unnoticed, to uphold and strengthen the tradition they were born into.

And which tradition is that?  And which tradition is that?  The American tradition?  By no means! For the American way, with its hollow commercialism, faddishness, and and its spiritually deadly worship of itself as the best nation that was, is, and ever shall be, is destructive of true culture and tradition.  It is truly an antitradition.  In the same manner that antimatter destroys matter, so American anticulture annihilates true culture wherever it comes in contact with it, from Eastern Europe to Japan and Hawai’i, and, yes, even Dixie’s.

The tradition the graduates must uphold is not the American but the Southern.  This is a true culture, made by Africans and Western Europeans together for over four centuries, and has within it some wonderful subcultures (Cajun, cowboy, hillbilly, Caribbean).  It is a mode of life dedicated to and rejoicing in the cultivation of the soil, beauty (both natural and artistic), the extended family (not just the nuclear family) and ancestors, Christianity, the folk ballad, fiddle, and banjo, story-telling, horses and honeysuckle, unique food ways (fried fish, cornbread, sweet potatoes, etc.), and other such pleasant things.

Our message to the graduates is simply this:  Do not trade your Southern heritage for a mess of American pottage.  Do not go where ‘the jobs are’ – to Denver, Seattle, or even large, un-Southern cities like Atlanta within the Southland.  If you must go away for a time, come back as soon as you can.  Apply yourselves to making the little neighborhoods, towns, and cities where you grew up thrive and flourish.

If you will do this, if you will sacrifice and make due with less for the sake of your people, it is true that few places in the South will have the ugly, unnatural glare of a megacity, that there will likely be fewer skyscrapers, industrial parks, and superhighways than other places have.

But maybe there will be beautiful churches, where great-grandparents worship the All-Holy Trinity with their great-grandchildren, and outside of which lie their forefathers and mothers in the church graveyards, awaiting the prayers for the departed offered lovingly from the hearts of their descendants.

Maybe there will be stately manor houses and lots of other cheerful homeplaces, surrounded by well-kept fields, orchards, and pastures that supply many of the needs of the families and their neighbors, where friends and travelers can enjoy the sound of the fiddle on the front porch in the evening or share in a barbeque.

Maybe there will be humanely-sized cities, where commerce can take place calmly and unhurriedly, warmly and friendly, and where the craftsman has not been replaced by the machine.

Maybe the government will be officially consecrated as a Christian government, one of whose main tasks will be co-operating with the Church for the salvation of all the people by protecting and nurturing the Christian Faith throughout all the lands of its dominion.

Maybe there will be things like this in the South.  But they will only come about if the graduates and their elders will devote themselves whole-heartedly to serving the concrete reality that is Dixie and not the harmful fantasy called America.

Walt Garlington

Walt Garlington is a chemical engineer turned writer (and, when able, a planter). He makes his home in Louisiana and is editor of the 'Confiteri: A Southern Perspective' web site.

Leave a Reply