Kathryn Jean Lopez / January 4, 2020

Words of Wisdom for the New Year

It’s a presidential election year, as you no doubt can’t escape knowing. The anger and conviction during such tumultuous times can be quite overwhelming.

It’s a presidential election year, as you no doubt can’t escape knowing. The anger and conviction during such tumultuous times can be quite overwhelming.

Speaking of being overwhelmed, my office tends to be overrun with books. I’ve purged many times — we’ve had at least two moves in my 20-some years here. For some reason, two oldies rose to the top of a pile on the first day back in the new year. “What’s Wrong With the World” by G.K. Chesterton and “My Love Affair With America” by Norman Podhoretz. They clearly have something to offer us in this agitated era.

Chesterton writes: “This is the arresting and dominant fact about modern social discussion; that the quarrel is not merely about the difficulties, but about the aim. We agree about evil; it is about the good that we should tear each other’s eyes out … We forget that, while we agree about the abuses of things, we should differ very much about the uses of them.”

He goes on: “The only way to discuss the social evil is to get at once to the social idea.” “We can all see the national madness; but what is the national sanity? I have called this book ‘What Is Wrong with the World?’ and the upshot of the title can be easily and clearly stated. What is wrong is that we do not ask what is right.”

In his ode to America, Podhoretz celebrates the best of the United States, which includes his public primary school teachers who used traditional Christmas carols as part of their instruction. This is part of our culture after all, and joy is not to be withheld from children, so they can come to know it’s possible, whatever their beliefs about the nature of God might be or come to be. We pay lip service to not “imposing,” and yet we do impose in all kinds of ways as a culture of increasing ideological tyranny. It is out of respect for another that you share something meaningful, while not demanding submission! Liberty means many things, including an unrestricted flow and exchange of ideas.

This is something to think about as serious and real intolerance — racial, religious and cultural — is on the rise in this country.

Podhoretz writes that our country “declared its independence as a nation by an appeal to ‘the law of Nature and Nature’s God,’ and the Constitution its founders wrote and ratified for that new nation uses the word ‘blessings’ in its very first paragraph. The particular blessings to which they referred were those of liberty, to ‘secure’ which to themselves and their posterity they created the Constitution that set the United States of America on its course.”

My National Review colleague Richard Brookhiser, too, writes in his new “Give Me Liberty: A History of America’s Exceptional Idea”: “Our concern for liberty shapes how we live in society and what we know ourselves to be in the order of things: how we relate to each other and what God has made us. Americans are free and equal men and women, marked for liberty at birth. Ignorance and vice may obscure and sometimes even steal our birthright, but we work, stolidly or heroically, to reclaim it.”

How about resolving to make this election year different? Reject cynicism and rage. Renew and rebuild what’s been best about us. To do right in every scenario before us — as a matter of civics and daily life.

COPYRIGHT 2020 United Feature Syndicate

Start a conversation using these share links:

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!

★ PUBLIUS ★

“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2022 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.