William F. Buckley Jr. died on Wednesday, at home, in his office. He was 82 years old, and in that 82 years, he defined the well-lived life for all of us, as Charlie Rose noted during one of Mr. Buckley's many appearances on Rose's program. Mr. Buckley helped define the movement as the home of fresh ideas, at a time when "conservative" was a perspective far out of fashion. He served as a rallying point for young minds. He was well before my time, but I tried to take certain lessons to heart. More important to me than any particular opinion or belief, though, is the following, one of my favorite Buckley quotes.
"The purpose of an open mind is to close it, on particular subjects. If you never do, you've simply abdicated the responsibility to think."
I try to be skeptical of every new "grand solution to all that ails." I think of Mr. Buckley, and wonder how he would begin the dissection of the issue, cutting to the heart of the matter. It was a beautiful thing to watch, or to read. I am nowhere near the debater, but I'd like to think I'm better for having watched him go about it. Thank you, Mr. Buckley. Not bad, for a Yalie.