Welcome to CIVIC RENAISSANCE
Your time is your most valuable of possessions, and with these posts I hope to make these musings worth your while. I promise you ample insight from the wisdom of the past, the semi-occasional epigram or witticism from Oscar Wilde and other bon-vivants, and some of my reflections on life and culture—all to the end of ennobling the mind and enlivening your day.
I’m Taking the Surly Train
In my latest for the Wall Street Journal, I plumb the significance of a vignette I observed on the New York Subway recently—a youth stealing a seat from an older gentleman—and argue that how we interact each day is a microcosm of our society as a whole. Our everyday interactions encapsulate our vision of the good, justice, and ethical obligations to one another, and that in America, our voluntary charity to one another is necessary to sustain our limited government.
The Value of Exercising Civility—in Both Oikos and Polis
For Quillette, I tackle the limits of our public discourse, suggesting that the oikos (the family sphere) and the polis (the public sphere) require different treatment: we have different obligations to our friends and family than to public figures and politicians.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
For Commentary, I recently reviewed Tim Carney’s just-released Alienated America (available on Amazon here). Carney follows in the footsteps of Tocqueville, traversing communities across America to discover if the American dream is still alive and well. While our civil institutions appear to be crumbling—as Carney finds, especially the church—the health of our person-to-person relationships, the fundamental building blocks of civil society, depend on how we choose to make the most of our everyday interactions with our fellow citizens.
George Washington’s Commitment to Human Dignity
In The American Conservative, I argue that recognizing merit invariably leads to hierarchy, which seems at odd with American equality. But it’s not, because difference doesn’t negate our fundamental equality and value.
How Conduct Formed Washington’s Character
For theInterCollegiate Review, I string together some fun anecdotes about America’s first president that demonstrate how his inner virtue informed his outer conduct.
Manners Maketh Man
For the Claremont Review of Books, I reviewed a stunning history of manners in the early modern period in England by Oxford historian Keith Thomas.
If politics flows downstream from culture, there is reason to hope
It can often feel as if our public discourse is in disarray. But in the last few months, I’ve spoken with local community leaders across the country who are committed to being part of the solution. It’s often said that politics flows downstream from culture. If this is true, then these local initiatives that bring together community leaders from all sectors, backgrounds, and political persuasions are an encouraging development. I’m honored to be partnering with some of them in the coming months to help create locally driven remedies to problems of which we’re feeling the consequences at all levels and places.
Do you know of any communities or organizations working to heal our social fabric? Let me know! I’d love to learn about their efforts.
On that note, it was a privilege to speak to the Kiwanis Club of Indianapolis recently. You can find the full address here. Please take a moment to view it, and send me your thoughts!