I’m writing a long article on this topic. And I’m going share parts of it with you two paragraphs at a time.

It would be more interesting to talk about the president losing control of his own spins in ways that reveal (as Carl is more insistent that I am) his deep inauthenticity or lack of character. He is a politician, after all. Impeachment doesn’t really seem likely. But personal isolation on multiple levels that reminds us of Nixon is clearly being displayed. Meanwhile, there’s less and less chance any Republican can work with him.

But I digress. Here are the two paragraphs:

Conservatives properly understood are as concerned with social ecology as environmentalists are concerned with natural ecology. That’s not to say the two concerns are mutually exclusive. But conservative environmentalism, whether natural or social, is anthropocentric. We’re concerned about the natural and social conditions indispensable for the flourishing of whole persons. The deep ecologists, pantheists, and so forth say that nature would cheer if man—the human person—were to disappear. From that view, the human being is a kind of cosmic accident who’s bound to trash his hostile natural environment. Deep ecology is really deep pessimism: How could beings such as ourselves ever show the discipline required to sustain ourselves? From a natural view, after all, there’s no reason we should exist, and it’s dangerous that we do. So the natural hope is that we’ll manage to take ourselves out before extinguishing all life on our planet.

We conservatives think that nature exists to be used well by the human person, just as we think that human nature isn’t an oxymoron. As the beings given speech or complex language by nature, we’ve been given excellences, responsibilities, perversities, and the potential for both good and evil not given to the other animals. We alone among the beings are given the charge of taking responsibility for “living in the truth.” And so we’re charged with subordinating our technological accomplishments—wonderful displays of the freedom we have been given that are often won at the expense of nature—to properly human purposes. Those purposes, of course, include sustaining our not only beneficial—but also indispensable—natural, social, and relational orders. How could there be freedom without such corresponding responsibilities?

Articles by Peter Lawler

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