Sunday, August 06, 2006

Curtains for Conservatism

I tabled at a Peace and Friendship fair in Cranford today. It was a great experience - sunny and breezy, and with lots of people from the peace and progressive movements here in Central New Jersey: singers, activists, painters...

I read a poem, a puppet show, and a piece of my prose (all three will be posted shortly). And I found that I know more and more of my fellow pacifists and progressives, as I discover more and more often.

I even met some new people - some who seemed likeminded, and one, significantly, who was not, and yet we found a way to communicate, and tiny scraps of common ground. I plan to look into his writings more and think about what he said, and try to respond to those things; we disagree, perhaps, but thoughtfully and respectfully, and I can't really ask for more.

It's sad if conservatism really is collapsing, as the E.J. Dionne article at the link suggests, because I came from a very conservative background, and still find values I admire there from time to time; great thinkers worked hard to build some of those original theories, and their legacy has been badly damaged by the actions of far lesser minds. Not a historical first, but still, always discouraging.

Mostly, I'm sad because I believe that the best new ideas come from the thoughful, respectful and constructive collision, through debate, of different old ideas. Our lefty yin needs a worthy yang, and I'm curious about where that will come from.

While I packed up the car, I was reminded of things I've read about faith, in The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron, and in many other writings like that, about human creativity, growth, and so on.

The idea is that the more you go out into the world trying, courageously, to be the best self you can be, as true to your callings as you can be, the more the world opens up to you, clears paths (not too clear, but still) so that you can continue to move forward.

A few years ago, I would not have seen myself doing what I do now, but it feels very right now that I'm here. I feel that in my work through my church and the political groups, and also through this blog, I have found my tribe at long last - the place, the people and the work I belong to. It's a very good feeling.

I may not be caught safely by the future, but there is apparently a way I am supposed to stumble through it, and my provisional definition of faith is to believe, without seeing the way, that it will be revealed so long as I keep leaping into it.


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