Saturday, March 1, 2008

A Moment of Reflection

When asked to write my thoughts on the passing of William F. Buckley Jr. I decided not to focus on his achievements. When looking back on an event or life I believe we should focus on what we can learn from that event or life that can be applied today. From what I have come to know of Mr. Buckley I believe he would have approved.

Like Mr. Buckley I wanted the opportunity to focus on the issues and engage in some constructive debate--free of the talking points, cliches and personal attacks which contribute nothing to moving us towards solutions, consensus, or at the least, understanding. The result has been this blog.

I want to thank those who have taken the time to engage in the discussions and those who have just stopped by for a look. I encourage the latter to throw a few comments/questions my way. I will respond though it may take a day or two and I will update it at least once a week.

While this isn't the National Review it is an effort to provide people with another avenue to participate in that wonderful, chaotic, sometimes frustrating, but never dull pastime we call democracy.

Below for those who may have missed it are my comments on the late great William F. Buckley Jr. My thanks to Editorial Editor Paul Akers who did a great job tightened up my original draft so you did not have to suffer through some of my added ramblings:

He who wrestles with us strengthens our nerves and sharpens our skills. Our antagonist is our helper.

--Edmund Burke

WRITTEN more than two centuries ago by political philosopher and statesman Edmund Burke, these words well describe the late William F. Buckley Jr.

More than the architect of the modern conservative movement in America, Buckley approached political discourse in a way that challenged us--conservative and liberal alike--to question, re-evaluate, and refine our views. He made us think.

Buckley's focus was on issues. To the consternation of many, no position was sacred. All were subject to scrutiny. He stood firm on what he believed regardless of its popularity; he used reasoned arguments to make his case and with pointed questions tried to expose flaws in positions he opposed. He tried to reason us to his point of view.

For some, Buckley provided validation for their beliefs. For others, he challenged their views and required of them a rational response. Through this process we all became more informed and more aware of differing views, and we had our own views tested. We emerged with a broader perspective.

Today, principles are sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. Commentators talk about how one's positions must be crafted to curry favor with particular constituencies. The important issues of the day are condensed to sound bites and laid out in comic-book formats. Fear-mongering and personal attacks have replaced reasoned discourse, while, it seems, personalities have become more important than issues.

For this nation to continue to face and overcome challenges, we must be informed and prepared to fully debate the questions before us. Through such discourse better solutions emerge, and, when they do, we all understand the rationale and purpose for the ultimate decisions.

Buckley fulfilled the role of moderator in the debates of his time. Whether you agreed with him or not, he informed us and challenged us to take another look at the issues we faced, to contemplate alternatives and ideas.

Alas for the nation, few on either end of the political spectrum are able to step up to take his place.

1 comment:

Larry Gross said...

...."to the consternation of many, no position was sacred. All were subject to scrutiny."

did appreciate your thoughts...

and yes.. the essential problem is that one must be willing to have their most sacred beliefs challenged HARD if dialog is to be useful and offer any chance at resolution and consensus on tough issues.

people have trouble .. sometimes a lot of trouble distinguishing between attacking an idea and attacking a person.

In ANY kind of a truly honest discussion - no ideas are exempt but we oftentimes are so wedded to ideas that we see an attack on an idea as an attack on ourselves...

so.. we agree to .. to never agree.. never discuss because we're unwilling to have our own ideas questioned...

so.. this fits into your Blog Title - Question Everything...