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There is tremendous pressure to be wrong these days. It takes a lot of character to be right. Much about First Things—a magazine I have read devotedly since my days as an undergraduate—is worthy of admiration, perhaps nothing more so than the courage of its writers and editors to simply say what is right in public.

The left threatens those who gainsay its political and cultural program. But these days, there are serious threats from the right, too. Who can forget the swarm of conservative pundits on social media who attacked the editors of this magazine for simply being right about the fact that much of the Covid regime was a destructive, anti-human force masquerading as charity toward one’s neighbor? When mass loneliness—which can destroy the heart of a nation and leave its people susceptible to the worst forms of tyranny—emerged as a political form and was elevated to the pinnacle of moral duty, First Things risked the invective of fellow conservatives for being willing to see through the mask. That’s when the magazine secured my enduring loyalty.

These last few years, I’ve been honored to be counted as a contributor. The reader should be assured, as I know by painful experience, that the editors care deeply about the quality of the material they print and post. Because of the need to churn out copies these days, it can be difficult to receive a note of decline from some publications. Not so at First Things. But here I’ll just relay, rather than reveal the gory details, that not everything I’ve submitted has seen the light of day. As Rusty Reno once encouraged me, “Send us your best stuff.” 

When trading professionally in ideas and data, as I do, it is good to know all that you can about your subject. But it is better still to wrestle with subjects that exceed your own in importance, that take a higher view—even a transcendent one—and offer a different vantage point from which to examine your own thinking and see how it fits in with larger truths.

These days, for example, I’ve been writing a lot about how technology should serve families. One of the underlying tensions in this fight is that what one means by “good technology” hinges upon what one means by “human.” To say that some bit of tech helps or hinders man, one must first know what man is, which can only be discovered by recourse to higher knowledge, such as theology, philosophy, and the humanities. This is the kind of inquiry found in the pages of First Things, which is why I hope you will generously support it. For its courage is about far more than being right in the moment—it is about trying to see man as he truly is in our anti-human age.

Michael Toscano is executive director of the Institute for Family Studies. 

Image by Agnes Monkelbaan, licensed via Creative Commons. Image cropped.

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