The miracle is that some have stepped out of the rags of the Republic's definition to assume the great burden and glory of their humanity and their responsibility for one another. It is an extraordinary achievement to be trapped in the dungeon of color and to dare to shake down its walls and to step out of it leaving the jailkeeper in the rubble.
We can't achieve excellence through talent alone. Or merely by making technological improvements. We can't even buy our way to excellence, no matter how much money we have available to spend. More dollars will never do it. We have to develop a strong corporate conscience. Ethical muscle. And that doesn't happen by accident either.
The conservative response to modernity is to embrace it, but to embrace it critically, in full consciousness that human achievements are rare and precarious, that we have no God-given right to destroy our inheritance, but must always patiently submit to the voice of order, and set an example of orderly living.
It seems, in fact, that the more advanced a society is, the greater will be its interest in ruined things, for it will see in them a redemptively sobering reminder of the fragility of its own achievements. Ruins pose a direct challenge to our concern with power and rank, with bustle and fame. They puncture the inflated folly of our exhaustive and frenetic pursuit of wealth.