Thursday, November 6, 2008

One last election post

Francis Beckwith writes:

Like many conservatives of my generation (b. 1960), I came of age when there was a vibrancy and excitement for the works of authors such as Bill Buckley, Russell Kirk, Frederick Hayek, Edmund Burke, Adam Smith, Henry Hazlitt, Hadley Arkes, and George Gilder. Our political heroes included Washington, Lincoln, Churchill, Reagan, and Thatcher.

Sadly, this present generation is rarely put in contact with these leading lights and their works. Instead, young conservatives as well as young liberals are tutored almost exclusively by blogs and bombast, by “stars” whose command of the intellectual roots of conservatism is an inch deep and a mile wide. We’ve come from “Don’t immanentize the eschaton” to “Sean, you’re a great American.”

Even though I firmly opposed Senator Barack Obama, and had hoped that Senator John McCain would have won, I felt a deep sense of patriotic pride welling up inside of me when I fully realized that America had in fact elected a black man. So, unlike 1992, I felt relieved rather than depressed. For something great had happened and I was blessed to have witnessed it.

I'm only 9 years younger than Beckwith. I came of age during the Reagan revolution and still consider Ronald Reagan the greatest President of my lifetime. In high school I was a subscriber to Bill Buckley's National Review and I too eagerly read Russell Kirk's The Conservative Mind and Hayek's The Road to Serfdom. Back then (all of 25 years ago) conservatism was defined by ideas not personalities. Beckwith's piece makes me nostalgic for a time before Rush and Drudge and Fox News. I hold my political and ideological views much looser nowadays "It's the gospel, stupid" (preaching to myself) but I'm still a conservative at heart. Hopefully this time in the political wilderness causes some serious reflection on the part of those who've contributed richly to the current mess we're in. Who knows? It may be that the Obama revolution morphs into something quite surprising to all of us. History can take some funny turns. I think the President-elect has a sense of history, but I suspect many of his supporters don't. Be that as it's my last word on this election -- for now -- quoting again from Beckwith:

For conservatives, there is much work to be done. We not only have to be the loyal opposition when bad policies are proposed, we have to present our views respectfully and intelligently. For those of us who are Christians, we have to remember that the City of God is not the City of Man, that the Kingdom of God is established from the inside out and not from the top down. In other words, we cannot immanentize the eschaton.

Having said that, we have a responsibility to love our neighbors as ourselves, which may require that we support and defend policies and positions that we believe advance the common good, and with which some of our fellow citizens surely disagree. For this reason, especially on issues such as marriage and the sanctity of life, we must be artful and thoughtful in our public advocacy, assertive while not being abrasive.

Like so much of life on this side of eternity, politics must be put in perspective. It is not everything, but it is not nothing either. It has its place. For this reason, it is the better part of wisdom to end my brief comments with the oft-quoted, but not often reflected upon, words from the Book of Ecclesiastes:

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

Read the whole thing

1 comment:

Tara said...

I took great comfort in Mr. Beckwith's words. Wonderful perspective.