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The Modern Guide to The Thing Before Preppy

Friday, February 1, 2019

Question for the Community: "Where does this particular SWNE way of life go in the 21st century with the next generation?"

A reader question:
I hope you are doing well this frigid evening. I am an avid reader and wanted to thank you for all the thoughtful and enjoyable content over the past years.  
I wanted to humbly pose a question to you and your readership. Where does this particular SWNE way of life go in the 21st century with the next generation? I saw some debate of this topic in relation to the NYT Bush/WASP article(s). The values and qualities put forth by this blog are certainly in decline. The question is, are they left to die proudly or do they gradually adapt with the times? Where do people fall on this? 
I'm a millennial and have seen many of my peers run away from such a life. In its place, there has been this phenomenon of faux prepdom with 'Brad' and 'Chad'.

Thank you for your time.


  1. The way of life of tradition, morals, and values will always be around.
    The greatest influence on any child are there parents. If the parents stress this to there child as they grow, they will turn into wonderful, productive, classy adults. Read Read Read everything you can. Read all different points of view. Go to plays, symphony concerts, operas, art museums. These types of inquisitive, smart, moral people will always be around no matter what generation.

    1. Anon 9:56AM What a nice comment.

      Anon 12:36 Given the scope of the reader's question, I would rather hear your views. I mean that in all seriousness because it is such an important topic. Considering the eloquence of the comment the typo must have been an oversight.

    2. I would agree with this but as someone who does attend cultural events on a regular basis I still see a lot of older people and very few young people at the opera (and I live in a city famous for their opera where you can even go in standing room for less than the price of a movie ticket, so I don't think it's just about the cost).


    3. 1:48PM here again. Now realize it was the author who was auto correcting. This post sparked me to take my boys to a museum, a sporting event, and a concert today. All were free. Lunch and snacks were 40 dollars total. They participated in the museum tour. They got some tips on how to improve their squash game. They were asked by the lead violinist to join a middle school orchestra that she is putting together for a spring concert. Good manners still open doors. The boys both play two instruments, and are working, happily I might add, on three languages. They are doing great in school. They are self starters. I don't feel it is a dying art to be a decent, honest, respectful human being. Katahdin, My great grandparents were on their honeymoon at the same time as the MacArthurs were honeymooning. They became life long friends. My great uncle was at MacArthurs side when he honored his promise of returning to the Philippine shores. I think all of them would be proud of my boys and feel they are being brought up with the same values of respect for others.

  2. Agree with the post above. Education is key. As my grandfather always said, no one can take away your education. Newspapers, museums, books, arts, music, travel, the symphony are all education tools. Look at the photos on this site--they are keys to the arts, social engagement, quality living, tradition. Tradition isn't dead or antique. Tradition is a solid footing/basis for advancement. Turn off the TV and open your mind.

  3. I must respectfully disagree. The values and qualities are not in decline, any more than we are living in a "post-Christian" America. Both are lies propagated by those who oppose such values and who oppose Christianity. It is a trick used to force those who adhere to those values, and to Christianity, to begin any discussion from a position of accepted defeat.

  4. Sorry for the double post. This reminded me of something. Not to worry. None of this is new. Rebellion, rejection, reconciliation, preservation. It is as ancient as we are. See Jeremiah 6:16:

    Thus says the Lord: "Stand by the roads and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said. 'We will not walk in it.'"

  5. As RCJH said above "Turn off the TV and open your mind" ..People have also overtaken by their Phones and IPads.... Parents today just hand their child a device and the kid never looks away from it again. These products have a place and a time when they should be used, and the internet is a great thing too, but people need to turn off their devices and try social engagement. And I am not just talking about playdates.. Take your children to a Museum, an Art Gallery , a Music concert, and travel if you can....

  6. “Where does this particular SWNE way of life go in the 21st century with the next generation?”

    To paraphrase General Douglas MacArthur in his farewell speech to Congress, old customs never die; they just fade away.

  7. The baby boomers took a lot of this civilized behavior for granted. They thought everyone else would do it, so they just took care of themselves. I see a lot of signs that the next generations are better at thinking beyond themselves.

  8. To echo, kind of, what has been said already, be discerning in your tastes. Do your best to acquire a level polish and sophistication. In all respects. Recognize what might possibly need to change about yourself to do that and take the necessary steps to do so. Rein in any less than savory personal habits, behaviors, and/or attitudes. Educate yourself beyond whatever book learning you might have had thrown at you in school/college. Keep reading. Always. One new work of nonfiction a month is a good start. Keep your eyes and ears open. Learn from others. Be considerate of those who think differently, or have a different kind of life even when you vehemently disagree. Get and keep your own house in order. Learn the art of self-restraint: moderation and consideration. Do some interesting things with your life that transcend the banal that masquerades as living for many in 2019. Make a conscious effort to do more and be more in whatever form that might take. There is nothing wrong with aspiration although many, apparently, turn up their noses at the idea now. Give more freely of yourself. Admit when you make mistakes, but there is not need to feel poorly about yourself always and forever. Go through life with your head held high. Be grateful everyday for all you have and achieve through hard work.

    Best Regards,


  9. I'm enjoying reading these great answers and am glad the question was asked.

  10. I agree with Hans' response and have a few additional thoughts.

    We can each carry the torch of our shared values, but it takes a conscious effort every day. Particularly when confronted with the various frustrations (vulgarities?) of 21st century life.

    For those of us who are parents, the pressure is amplified to be our best selves. We have little eyes watching us, and they will learn what they see. As the mother of three small children, values such as being kind, civil, patient, loving (of others and of country), service, generosity, gratitude, etc. are all woven throughout our day. Add to that also teaching academics and soft skills such as making eye-contact and putting your best foot forward - well, it's exhausting! There is no greater responsibility (and no greater reward) than being a parent and teaching our children to be good people. Our values can be passed down and our way of life can continue, but it will take a lot of work. Do all of the recommendations other commentators suggested and make sure your children see you doing it. Have them participate when they are mature enough, and you will find our way of life thriving.


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