Two Calls to Courage

Susannah Black
Susannah Black received her BA from Amherst College and her MA from Boston University. She is an editor at Mere Orthodoxy, Plough Quarterly, Postliberal Thought and its journal New Polity, and The Davenant Press. Previously, she was an editor at Providence and Fare Forward. She's a co-founder of Solidarity Hall and The Simone Weil Center, and is on the boards of the Distributist Review, The Davenant Institute, and The Simone Weil Center. Her writing has appeared in First Things, The Distributist Review, Solidarity Hall, Providence, Amherst Magazine, Front Porch Republic, Ethika Politika, The Human Life Review, The American Conservative, Mere Orthodoxy, Fare Forward, Postliberal Thought, and elsewhere. She blogs at Radio Free Thulcandra and tweets at @suzania. A native Manhattanite, she is now living in Queens.

Dear friends,

Be not afraid.

It’s the injunction that the angels typically lead with, when they visit humans. My assumption has always been that’s because they’re terrifying and the humans they are visiting have a tendency to freak out when they show up.

The quality that allows us to act well when something is frightening is courage, and both of this week’s pieces are, in their own ways, calls to courage. Particularly, to political courage, because political cowardice has a price that we have, for these past few years, found far too high.

Joseph Keegin writes about his father’s addiction to political outrage media: the flickering of partisan talking heads stole his father’s attention during the last years of his life, alienating him from his family. This addiction delivers those who fall prey to it—on both left and right—into a simulacrum of spiritual warfare, casting the Other Side of the political spectrum as the demonic host, the principalities and powers of the world. It is one that we must break, if we are to live in the actual world and see our fellow human beings as they truly are, rather than using them as villainous extras in the movie in our minds.

Luke Bretherton, meanwhile, gives us a bold call to reclaim small-“d” democratic politics, the politics that start off with the bonds of affection and justice between friends. These politics likewise refuse to allow the friend-enemy distinction into the polity: they refuse the temptation of civil war and the temptation of despair alike.

We’ve got a lot to build. Let this week’s pieces spur you to courage and to commitment, and to renewed hope.