Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Hoist the flag higher

Chris Stirewalt:
.... My boss at the American Enterprise Institute, Yuval Levin, sagely holds that the fundamental conservative emotion is one of gratitude, while the progressive worldview rests on righteous outrage. One says, “We can’t tolerate how bad things are,” the other says, “It could be so much worse.”

One is born of imagination and the hope of things to come, the other springs from an understanding of the fallen nature of humanity as observed through history and philosophy. One is likely to see devils everywhere and tear down the whole house to get at them, the other is insufficient when there are evils to confront. It falls to each of us to know our nature and in which camp we most naturally reside, but then to test ourselves to see when our natural ways of being are reckless or insufficient. Society needs both views in competition, and we need the same within ourselves.

This is why Americans venerate George Washington and Abraham Lincoln above all our other leaders. They were men native to that conservative way of looking at the world who became powerful agents of change. They were gardeners inclined to tending who, for that very reason, excelled at the work of uprooting. ....

The American left responds to overt patriotism with the same kind of eye-rolling skepticism that I do when I see a drummer in a church. This, they think, will not end well. Trained their whole lives in the ways of outrage at injustice, Americans on the left cringe at the idea of unqualified celebration of their deeply flawed nation. How can they wave the flag, given the injustices perpetrated under its colors?

But that is the banner to which Americans of good conscience will have to rally. Our Declaration of self-evident truths is the only thing ever established with the capacity to accommodate both of those visions, to allow the freedom and flexibility to apply both the necessary gratitude for the gifts we have received and the righteous outrage at the injustices in our midst. It is imperfect, but is beautiful. .... (more)
Chris Stirewalt, "Patriotic Visionaries," The Dispatch, July 23, 2023.

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