The Democracy of the Dead


“Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.” – G.K. Chesterton

I love this quote. What a brilliant way of articulating the significance of tradition. In a culture of rebels and free thinkers that embraces this “virtue” of personal independence, tradition is often treated as a dirty word. And when it is tolerated it’s done so in this condescending sort of way. Like, “oh that’s cute, look honey, they’re keeping alive their tradition” – as if it’s just some exercise in sentimentality or a boast of pride on who can keep something going the longest.

And our tradition often collides with an arrogant intellectuality among the elite in our culture that “allows” us our traditions while quietly despising them. They may even participate in some of these traditions as long as we don’t take them too seriously and allow them to conflict with their enlightened agenda.

Of course, we should examine tradition and hold it up to our modern day experiences.  But we should remember that the tens of billions of humans that have lived before us have left us a few words of advice.  And the universal language of this advice is called tradition.

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