Andrew Sullivan posted this quote from William F. Buckley, Jr. on his blog Friday:
"I will not willingly cede more power to anyone, not to the state, not to General Motors, not to the CIO. I will hoard my power like a miser, resisting every effort to drain it away from me. I will then use my power, as I see fit. I mean to live my life an obedient man, but obedient to God, subservient to the wisdom of my ancestors; never to the authority of political truths arrived at yesterday at the voting booth," from Up From Liberalism
As a liberal who has devoted my life to the cause of empowering the weak, whether be it delivering meals to people with AIDS in San Francisco, managing the medication for the Traumatically Brain Injured, mopping the floors for the sufferers of Schizophrenia, or now teaching science to low-income Hispanic children, I find Buckley's view deeply saddening.
For the fundamental truth I have discovered so far in life is that any power I possess is inseparable from the power of all of humankind before me, and all of its power to come. As the embodiment of all of our strengths and weaknesses, for me to claim ownership of any power is simply false. It is my one duty to find, to the best of my ability, the right balance between enjoying the experience of my own life, and contributing to the enabling of others to do the same.
We will likely never alleviate all inequality, nor suffering. (I sometimes laugh at the thought that were we to be truly concerned about suffering, we would endeavor to limit the suffering of the natural kingdom, possibly starting with the administration of anesthesia to sick or injured animals!) But what makes us human is our capacity for empathy - for compassion; for the ability to imagine life through the eyes of another. And it is through this profound gift that we come to realize that power does not come, as if by magic, into individuals. It comes to us though our culture, our health & welfare, our economy & technology, our education and tradition - from old to young throughout generations.
Any true conservative should recognize this. This is what our race has worked all of these years for. Not so that man can cower like a spoiled child in a sandbox, and say, "I will hoard my power like a miser, resisting every effort to drain it away from me." Instead, may he marvel at its glow and say, "I so cherish this power thus blessedly given unto me, that I will do all I can to spread it back out into this beautiful world so that everyone may one day experience its joy."