It is a philosophy that stresses the value of conserving what is important in our society and recognizing that conservation doesn’t take place by accident.We have magnificent national parks today, but these parks might not even exist were it not for the efforts of conservationists to preserve them.
Cultural Conservation is a mindset, an understanding of the difference between change and progress, between new and improved, between eternal truths, timeless values, and the fashions and fads of the moment.
Cultural Conservation is a movement because it encourages and inspires us to work together to preserve the best of our culture and to see that this legacy is passed on from one generation to the next.
Finally, Cultural Conservation is an organization dedicated to the principle that we should preserve our cultural resources with the same enthusiasm and care that we devote to our natural resources.
You may ask “what does all this have to do with me?” More than you might ever imagine!
We live in a time of great problems and huge challenges; there are issues of war, peace, economic confusion, terrorism, diseases in need of cures, and a huge technological revolution that occasionally makes us feel as if the world is being taken over by computers. In times like these, elements of culture, especially the arts, may seem unimportant. Does it really matter if we choose to read certain books, listen to specific pieces of music, or look at particular works of art? If movies, television, and the Internet are sources of entertainment, shouldn’t we just be entertained?
In fact, the choices you make will not only affect you, but potentially your children and grandchildren for the rest of their lives.
Small children begin learning the lessons of life early. As they eventually grow into young adults, they will be influenced by their choices in music, movies, art, and books. It’s time we recognize that each of these components of our culture delivers a message. Many will say the messages have no place in the arts, certainly not in entertainment. The legendary producer Samuel Goldwyn once famously said of films produced to deliver messages, “If you want to send a message, call Western Union.” Today e-mails have supplanted telegrams, but we all know what Goldwyn meant. Goldwyn was wrong, at least in one respect.
The distinguished cultural analyst and teacher Russell Kirk observed that if a boy doesn’t read Treasure Island, he will likely be reading Mad Ghoul Comics. Russell Kirk wrote those words years ago; today the boy he describes might be reading things far worse than Mad Ghoul Comics; he also might not be reading at all. Kirk’s point was that bad books were not only badly written, they often delivered bad messages. Song lyrics deliver messages too and even music without lyrics can deliver a message. We learn lessons from motion pictures, from art, from the things we see and hear throughout our lives.
Many of these messages become lessons learned for good or ill; they are often far more powerful than the ideas conveyed in a traditional classroom.
So first and foremost, Cultural Conservation is about ideas and values.
The question isn’t whether or not members of your family (at all ages) will absorb such ideas and values, but which ones they will absorb. The Cultural Conservationist is someone who recognizes that the solution to this problem cannot be found in several places that we might traditionally regard as helpful.
For example, you may assume erroneously that schools and colleges are a natural ally. But too many academicians have adopted precisely the wrong mindset. They confuse change with progress and are eager to jettison everything remotely traditional because it isn’t brand new. They are often dominated by a desire to follow the latest fads, to prove they are politically correct, and to conceal their own lack of knowledge behind a series of buzzwords.
The government, like the schools, is more often part of the problem than the solution. Government bureaucrats can be meddlesome and falsely authoritative. When they address cultural issues, they often do so by rewarding cronies and channeling funds to people with political agendas.
The entertainment industry is the most powerful player on our cultural chessboard. The head of a large media company may have a million times more financial resources than academicians or politicians. These individuals have large media megaphones and could be the true champions of cultural conservation. But sadly, they are overwhelmingly motivated by a desire for huge profits. There is nothing wrong with earning huge profits in a free market, but with the right to earn those profits comes the responsibility to consider the impact of the products that you are offering to an eager and often gullible public.
So if you want to insure your family’s receiving a life of joy and inspiration from the arts, the answer is Cultural Conservation and what we can do together.
We can reform education.
You can see that your children and grandchildren are introduced to the arts at an early age. You can ask yourself, “What values are encouraged and inspired by our culture?”
You can spread the word in your family and your community, reminding everyone that change and progress are not synonymous.
You don’t need to attend a school or obtain a credential to be a dedicated Cultural Conservationist. You just need to familiarize yourself with the positive and dynamic mindset that can lead you and your family in the right direction. The path to progress is clear. Real progress is built by absorbing and preserving our best cultural legacy. We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. In our eagerness to move ahead, we must never forget what we may be leaving behind.
Cultural Conservation does not provide a guarantee or a group of promises.
What is provides is an opportunity for you to join millions of others in an important effort to preserve the best of our past and present, thereby insuring the future for you, your children, and grandchildren.
Are you ready for a challenge? Cultural Conservation is a non-profit organization dedicated to these principles. It is also an idea whose time has come. To take your first step in becoming a Cultural Conservationist and developing a plan of action to help your family, click here.