No, that headline is really not in keeping with the humble spirit of the column, but Brooks’ words struck a chord this morning, and I probably overreacted … as I’m sometimes inclined to do.

His central concept is a rather simple one: the degree of our civility is directly related to the degree we recognize just how flawed and imperfect we each are.

That struck a chord with me because, as I crossed the 40-year-mark several years ago, it was a sense of fallibility, of imperfection — rooted, admittedly, in an expanded awareness of my mortality — that prompted me to step back from the die-hard, far-right conservatism of my youth and begin to evaluate the merits of a more … blended form of politics.

I’m still experimenting with the blend, still trying to figure out the mix; it’s a dynamic, often maddening, never-ending process. And that seems to be the very point Brooks is trying to make: the process of political discovery, of seeking the ideal mix, cannot and should not (in any one person’s mind or lifetime) reach a final conclusion. Because when it does — or we think it does — we start to calcify and dig trenches and see virtually everyone who disagrees with us, who rejects our particular political mix, as an enemy.

PETE ABEL
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