Wallace Stegner on change, tradition and reform

For the fact is, if it is the necessity of the young to challenge and risk, it is the obligation of the old to conserve– not only for their own sake but for the sake of the young who at the moment want anything rather than conservation.  No society is healthy without both the will to create anew and the will to save the best of the old: it is not the triumph of either tendency, but the constant elastic tension between the two that should be called our great tradition.  In this society, we may confidently count on the will to change.  It is one of the great strengths of our civilization, as I have already said, history lines up in support of the rebel.  What we have in somewhat smaller measure, perhaps in these years in dangerously small measure, is the will to hold fast to what our parents or grandparents found good and workable.  It is every bit as necessary as reform”.    

Wallace Stegner,   The Sound of Mountain Water    1946

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