@amyschley shared this piece of @kevinwilliamson’s with me, and I remarked that I especially appreciated the passage, “The opposite message — that life is hard and unfair, that what is not necessarily your fault may yet be your problem, that you must act and bear responsibility for your actions…”
This is because it doesn’t blame folks for having it tough, and isn’t assuming that those things which we cannot be faulted for are easy to bear. Nobody wants to be called to take responsibility for the crap which isn’t their fault, but often life calls for it, and we’ll fail, and still be obligated to make an effort anyhow.
Having written that puts me in mind of Matthew Arnold’s poem Dover Beach, particularly its final stanza:
The conservative vision is a tragic one, neither morbid moping, nor just “suck it up, buttercup,” but certainly not shy about life having a dark side; a dark side even when no one asked for it (on top of all that humans do to invite the darkness in as well). The narrator writes, in light of the darkness, “Ah, love, let us be true / To one another!”
Romantic love, though, is hardly the only place where being true to one another matters. It matters in family, in friendship, and in political alliances. And especially where political alliances are concerned, conservatives simply don’t agree on how to be true to one another. Should we be true to shared ideas? To a party? To a particular demographic group? To “winning?” To a particular politician? A particular pundit? True to the politics of whoever we count as “one of us,” whether they form a recognizable political unit or not?
Here at Ricochet, observing the Code of Conduct, in both letter and spirit, is one way to be true to one another. Forming networks of friendships is another. Being true to one another in this way may or may not be an end in itself, depending on your perspective. If you believe that being true to one another on Ricochet means being part of certain political victories in the wider world, these things aren’t ends in themselves, but means. For other members, though, they’re ends in themselves.
Even those leading full religious lives can expect dark nights of the soul, nights when we “hear / [Faith’s] melancholy, long, withdrawing roar.” In times when faith – whether in religion or in other institutions – wanes, being “true to one another” in the face of life’s darkness takes on extra urgency. It’s no wonder, then, that our disagreements over how to be true to one another politically have led to suspicions of betrayal on all sides. We don’t even agree on when speaking hard truths counts as trueness. After all, sometimes hard truths need pointing out; other times, we’re just appealing to “hard truths” to demean others rather than sober them up.
Even amid mutual suspicions of betrayal, though, most of us would still agree that, because “life is hard and unfair, that what is not necessarily your fault may yet be your problem, that you must act and bear responsibility for your actions,” being true to one another means helping one another bear this responsibility.
What constitutes helping? Well, we don’t entirely agree on that, either. Which keeps things interesting.