Poland is on track to completely ban shopping on Sundays by the year 2020, the Catholic Herald recently:
The Sejm, the lower house of Poland’s parliament, passed the bill by 254 to 156 to restrict Sunday shopping to the first and last Sunday of the month until the end of 2018, only on the last Sunday in the month in 2019, and to ban it totally starting in 2020.
The country’s ruling conservative party and the trade unions agreed that the new policy would allow workers to spend more time with their families.
Back in July, President Trump delivered a speech in Poland’s Krasinski Square in which he praised the Poles as “a people who know the true value of what [they] defend.”
In an era of increasing globalization, it is rare to see a country acknowledge that some things are more important than economic prosperity. For instance, every November, tens of thousands of Poles march in the national, which commemorates the restoration of sovereignty to the Polish people after more than a century of foreign subjugation by the Germans, Austrians, and Russians. The march is a people-led celebration of traditional Polish values like faith, family, and patriotism.
The Poles understand that the family is the foundation of civilization. Healthy families produce strong, successful nations.
Many Western nations, including our own, have harmed the family by promoting sexual licentiousness and individual isolationism. We’ve spat on marriage and trivialized parenthood.
The spread of moral relativism has created a wide vacuum that non-Western ideologies are happy to fill. Yes, I’m talking about Islam. I’m also talking about the militant atheism of Castro, Stalin, and Sanger.
In the past decade we’ve seen how the open border policies and liberal social values of countries like Germany, France, and Sweden have spelled destruction. These nations have seen their cities transformed by individuals and cultures who hate the traditions and values that once formed them and despise the citizens who inhabit them.
Liberal efforts to topple the “patriarchy” and abolish sexual differences have ironically aided the rise of wildly patriarchal and oppressive cultures.
Too many Western countries have sacrificed their safety and heritage to the modern gods of diversity and inclusivity. By contrast, the Poles have resolved to put politics at the service of their culture, rather than allow politics to replace it. It is because of this that they are able to stand as a fit contender in the war against competing ideologies.
It’s difficult to imagine the United States introducing a policy banning Sunday shopping; in fact, even many conservatives would likely oppose the idea. But Poland is significantly more religiously and culturally homogeneous than the U.S. We have our own traditions and Judeo-Christian mores to defend, and we’ve done a terrible job doing so.
“Every nation has its own genius, its own qualities, springing from the hidden roots of its being,” Pope Pius XII once. “The wise development, the encouragement within limits, of that genius, those qualities, does no harm; and if a nation cares to take precautions, to lay down rules, for that end, it has the Church’s approval.”
In a modern society where many countries have betrayed the traditional Western values of life and liberty, Poland stands out as unapologetically Polish.
We’re not Poland, and we shouldn’t try to be (though I’m sure many Catholics would love to see the day when 1 million Americans gather at the U.S. border).
But we can and should strive for the type of cultural unity (not uniformity) that springs from a shared view of the common good. We could learn a lesson from a country who knows its identity and defends it against all others so that its citizens may benefit.
There’s room for debate over whether or to what degree the government should be involved in the quest to reclaim culture and morality, but at the very least it’s responsible for not actively promoting policies that undermine morality.
CatholicVote’s Stephen Herreid and Joshua Mercer discuss this very topic in this week’s episode of the CatholicVote Radio Hour. Check out their debate here and share your thoughts in the comments below.