I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Elliott’s latest essay (“A Conservatism of Hope?”). Pining and whining are pastimes of great expense to the soul. To give the doomsayers their (perhaps I should say “our”) due, however, the question remains, “where should we look in our quest for hope?” For too long conservatives have looked to a political movement or party as their savior. We always are disappointed (even Reagan, despite his great achievement abroad, provided only marginal and temporary relief at home). But then we should not be looking to politics for salvation. The art of the possible can yield marginal victories and perhaps mitigate if not prevent great damage, but we cultural, traditional conservatives should know that politics is not, or at least should not be, at the center of our concerns.
This is why Winston is quite right to emphasize the importance of those who are attempting to reinvigorate our understanding of art and the importance of beauty. I would add to this the importance of our built environment—the shape of the neighborhoods in which we live, which determines whether we know our neighbors, how much time we spend in our cars rather than with our friends, colleagues, and families, and much else about our way of life. We must work with groups, such as the Congress for the New Urbanism, in which we will find many people of good will with whom we disagree on much, but who are working for a more humane culture. Other important movements include that dedicated to fostering more and better independent religious schools. In both these cases ideology of left or right is at best a distraction, and often worse. Whether in these areas, in liturgical reform, or many other areas we could talk about, core goods of community, family, and beauty, as well as truth in its proper sense, are the point, and offer great hope.
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