fight not for the honor and interest of their country but to stabilizernthe political situation 5,000 miles away; where the childrenrnof aliens are given privileges at the expense of the childrenrnof native-born citizens; where all the little differences of traditionrn—in religion, in culture, in ethnic folkways—are abolished;rnwhere men—in the name of individual rights—may marry otherrnmen and adopt male children and where parents are taxed tornpay for public schools in which everythmg they love is derided.rnIf liberalism in all its political forms from Adam Smith tornKarl Marx is wrong, then what is the alternative? That wouldrnbe telling. It goes without saying that I have my point of view,rnwhich I regard as superior to all others—it is mine, after all. Asrnmuch as I might wish to convert my friends and readers to myrnviews on the sacraments or a commitment to Latin and Greek,rnI have no wish to delegitimate other perspectives (or, at least,rnmost other perspectives). While I might pray for the conversionrnof the Buddhists, I most decidedly do not want them tornbecome more like me, any more than I want women to becomernmore like men. The multiplicity and variety of created thingsrnreflects the glory of the Creator who transcends all of them. Tornreduce all moral life, as Lawrence Kohlberg and John Rawls do,rnto the moral reasonings of white, middle-class, Euro-Americanrnmales is to diminish the qualities of life.rnGlory be to God for dappled things—rnFor skies of couple-colour as a brindled cow;rnFor rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim.rnThere are abstract and unchanging truths, as Plato oncernproved, mathematical and logical rules for example, but theyrnhave no meaning for us unless they are embedded in some humanrntradition. We can talk about love or patriotism or civicrnvirtue all day, and we might even end up in the Leo StraussrnChair of Political Abstraction, but we know nothing importantrnabout love until we have loved someone or something, and wernunderstand nothing of virtue until we have formed our characterrnin practicing it. The virtues themselves are interpreted differentlyrnin different countries. Those who understand anythingrnabout natural law know that it is not a universal abstraction.rnJustice is not, Aristotle observes, like fire that burns the same inrnPersia and in Greece. It is a tendency (like right-handedness)rnthat is colored and altered by experience.rnNatural law tells us that it is right for children to honor parents;rnit does not tell us that Eskimos were wrong to allow agedrngrandparents to leave the igloo and freeze to deatli in order tornsave food for the children. A stranger in a foreign land does notrnhave the right to an opinion on the local wine or the relativernmerits of political candidates. If he does open his mouth torntake sides, he may find that people on the side he has chosenrnhave turned against him. Nobody likes to have his little tastesrnand prejudices judged by a censor. Love me, love my dog. If Irnhappen to prefer pistachio ice cream, no one can tell mc thatrnstrawberry is better. There are standards of quality and workmanshiprnof course, in ice cream as in art, but if I tell you I preferrnHaydn to Beethoven, you had better not try to deny me thernright to say that I do not or can not or may not, because I amrnnot too old to knock you down for it.rnThis is the privilege of speaking in the hrst-person singular,rnbut there is also the privilege of the first-person plural as in “wernFrench,” or “we Buddhists,” or “we birdwatchers.” Whateverrnprivileges I demand for my point of view—the right, for example,rnto think my own thoughts and associate with my ownrnkind—I must accord to others. Let the Quebecois be thernQuebecois.rnlaking the angelic or extraterrestrial perspective gives us thernillusion of power—the illusion the great tempter created whenrnhe took our Lord up onto a high place—^but not the reality. Nornmatter how much we worry about human rights violations inrnChina, famine in Africa, war in Bosnia, there is nothing practicalrnwe can do about it, unless we choose to give up our own livesrn(with all the commitments we have incurred) and move tornChina or Zaire. It is a question of leverage. Everyone knowsrnthat Archimedes said, “Give me a lever long enough, and I shallrnmove the earth.” What they sometimes forget is thatrnArchimedes said he needed not just a lever but “a placernto stand.” Without a place to stand—a family, a neighborhood,rna people and its language—we move nothing, we dornnothing, we are nothing. The first task of a moral human beingrnis not to play the stranger to our friends and judge the wodd asrnif we were gods; our obligation is—to use the language ofrnMartin L,uther and the Nashville Agrarians—to take our stand.rnWe may not move the earth, but we might stiffen our backbones,rncrn1997 Soutfiem LeaguernSummer InstituternJuly 6-11,1997 (Sunday evening throughrnFriday noon)rnCamp St Christopher, Johns Island,rnSouth Carolina (Near Charleston)rnJirst-chss resort cuxommodatbns on the Beach.rn^om ((DouSle occiwatuy), Board and tuition:rn$375 per studentrnBefore June 1; $425 ifiereafter.rnSeminars in Southern history, literature,rnpoRticaCphilbsop^,rntheob^y, and art By some of the South’sfinestrnunreconstructed scholars, indudingrnThomas Fleming, David Aiken, Clyde Wilson,rnamong others SeveraCseminars wULBe heidinrnhistoric Buitdings in the dty of Charleston itselfrnQuided tour of historic Charleston included.rnFor further information, write The Southern League,rnP.O. Box 40910, liscaloosa, Alabama, 35404,rnor call (205) 553-0155. Space is limited, so contact usrnas soon as possible to reserve your place.rnMARCH 1997/11rnrnrn