I only have a moment. But this is from the article translated by our Ralph in the new issue of FIRST THINGS:

I am one of those who believe that a human being is not an autonomous construction with no given structure, order, status, or role. I believe that the affirmation of freedom does not imply the negation of limits and that the affirmation of equality does not imply the leveling of differences. I believe that the powers of technology and of the imagination do not require that we forget that being is a gift, that life is prior to all of us, and that it has its own laws.

I long for a society in which modernity would have its full place but without implying the denial of elementary principles of human and familial ecology; for a society in which the diversity of ways of being, of living, and of desiring is accepted as fortunate, without allowing this diversity to be diluted in the reduction to the lowest common denominator, which effaces all differentiation; for a society in which, despite the technological deployment of virtual realities and the free play of critical intelligence, the simplest words—father, mother, spouse, parents—retain their meaning, at once symbolic and embodied; for a society in which children are welcomed and find their place, their whole place, without becoming objects that must be possessed at all costs, or pawns in a power struggle.

That, in fact, is the best statement in a long time of POSTMODERN REALISM. I will find the time to unpack that simple eloquence of each sentence later. But I too long for a world “in which modernity would have its full place” and in “the technological deployment of virtual realities” is possible without denying the truth of the “elementary principles” and “the simplest words” that correspond to who we really are.

And of course I long for a world full of truthful human diversity and free from reductionist dilution that “effaces all [real] differentiation.” That’s what Tocqueville also meant by “the affirmation of equality” without “the leveling of differences.” It’s true that all men and women are created equal and ARE mothers and fathers and parents and children and made to live in a world in which they are both free and welcome and so have a personal place. Being so understood really is a gift, and not worthless material we freely—if futilely—struggle to overcome.

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Articles by Peter Lawler


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