|All the phrases which have meant so much to Americans – peace and progress, justice and compassion, leadership and idealism – often sound not like stirring reminders of our nation, but call forth the cynical laughter or hostility of our young and many of our adults. Not because they do not believe them, but they do no think our leaders mean them …
This is not simply the result of bad politics and lack of skill. It flows from the fact that for almost the first time the national leadership is calling upon the darker impulses of the American spirit – not, perhaps, deliberately, but through its action and the example it sets – an example where integrity, truth, honour, and tall the rest seem like words to fill out speeches rather than guiding beliefs. Thus we are turned inward. People wish to protect what they have. There is a failing of generosity and compassion. There is an unwillingness to sacrifice or take risks. All of this is contrary to the deepest and most dominant impulses of the American character – all that which had characterised two centuries of history.
|Make gentle the life of the world|