Hear! Hear!

Over at Front Porch Republic (which you really should bookmark) Patrick Deneen leaves DC and, more important, is learning to ignore DC and pay attention to the actual place he lives. If you want to get the hang of it, think of Faramir resisting the lure of the One Ring:

We forget that Augustine went to Rome – his biographer Peter Brown tells us, because in Rome he could find the stage where he might pursue his ambitions as a political actor, a teacher of rhetoric. Unlike our current leaders, however, Augustine was quickly disillusioned by what he found there – an assortment of people drawn by common vices in the pursuit of earthly power. He left Rome, and eventually settled in the provinces of his homeland in Africa, in Thagaste, where he was drawn by life in a monastery where, Brown relates, “monks seemed to him to have succeeded in living in permanent communities, where all the relationships were moulded by the dictates of Christian Charity.” It would be from this setting that he would write his great work, The City of God, in which he sought to remind Christians – after the sack of Rome – that even the most important and majestic human societies must die, are destined to die, and will die all the more quickly when they think themselves to be the sole end and purpose of human life.

I have left Washington, but I am still learning to leave Washington. I am trying to learn that what takes place in my city, in my neighborhood, my region, deserves more attention and concern, deserves my energy and devotion and passion, far more than whatever the debate I’m told to care about by my betters who seek to focus my attention on the national and international stage, to distract me from the “slender allurements” of mere “domestic” life. Rather than “win” Washington, I am trying to learn to ignore Washington, to live in and care about where I am. And to remind myself to have a proper vista, not to share in the self-delusion in the eternity of our earthly city – that self-delusion that led our best-and-brightest into the belief that our economy would always grow as long as there was more to borrow, or today that our power will always increase. I am learning to leave Washington in part in preparation for the day when it will no longer be, or be what it is – a day that I think is not as distant as those now living there, a time when we will live in local culture because it will be the only place to live, the only place we should live.

Small and local beats huge and powerful every time.

  • Blog Goliard

    I advise undergraduates for a living, and so many of my students are drawn to T̶r̶a̶n̶t̶o̶r̶ ̶C̶o̶r̶u̶s̶c̶a̶n̶t̶ Washington D.C. and seek internships there. To be fair, that’s where a lot of the money and jobs are, especially for Political Science majors…but it’s still depressing. I grew up in a place and time that was far more suspicious of the Imperial Capital, which seemed ever so much farther away than it does now.

  • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

    *slow clap*

    Just beautiful. Reminds me of an article I once read way back in… wow, 2000. Hmm… still seems pretty relevant.

  • Marthe Lépine

    Just a little question, if someone would have the time or the inclination to explain it to me: Is not this renewed attention to “local culture”, in some sense, related to the meaning of “subsidiarity”?


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