Many thanks to everyone who has posted with encouragement and advice over the last week. I was nearly despairing, and now I feel much better about the whole situation. It brings to mind a comment from one of the first meetings of the class, the night Steve Jobs died. The professor asked me why I said that Mr. Jobs had positively affected the lives of millions, which is a perfectly fair question, and she was right to make me defend my statement. One of the ways that I said we all benefited from his contributions is that the part he played in bringing personal computers to the masses was the added ability for me to contact my loved ones even if they live far away. When I was young, long distance was expensive, and email had not been invented yet. That left either short conversations or letters which took days or more each direction. Of course, her response was "Well if it weren't for industrialization maybe you wouldn't live so far from your loved ones," but that's just her being her. The support I have received from everyone is living proof that all this connection is of benefit. I now can get intellectual insights from people all over the country and world that I will never meet, within hours of asking for help. I thank all of you. I will post new entries every few days to summarize what's going on in class and to help me sort through my own questions and thoughts about conservative principles.
Time for class!