A disquieting spirit is in the air. Uncertainty lurks everywhere. Once solid moorings have drifted away and questions are being raised about the nation's course. Suspicion and acrimony, fear and irritability, shape political debate. Such passions extend like a mist over the land, dulling the imagination and hope. Inspiration, heroic energy, and common purpose have receded from notice. Even Lady Liberty's light flickers dimly. For many beyond our shores, the light has gone out altogether. For others, it offers only a dwindling promise. It's as though America has succumbed to the seductive songs of the ancient Sirens and finally run aground.
All this should cause alarm. It reveals that as a nation, we no longer inquire what kind of a people we want to be? We no longer ask what kind of America we want to create? We no longer care what kind of country we want to project to the world? Instead, we have become a land of individuals uninspired by common purpose. We are a splintered mass, a fractured totality, a land of Red and Blue states, a politics of ideological extremes, and a nation of hedonistic excess and spiritual alienation. We simply don't know what to do with our Freedom! We seem to have lost touch with our nation's destiny! We are cast adrift, aimless and without rudder.
Abu Ghraib Torture and Prisoner Abuse --Standing on a Box With Wires Connected to Body
The core of our problem lies not with our heritage or promise, but with our nation's leaders. Too many in power are unable to think and act on principle. Even the very notion of principle lies increasingly beyond their grasp. At times, when great issues come to the fore, the application of principle even eludes the entire country, as when we zealously committed to a war on Iraq. Even our long-standing institutions, especially the family and education, struggle to maintain integrity.
Why is this? Many reasons come to mind. But one stands out more than others. In practical terms, the American people have been led to act, privately and publicly, on the premise that "the end justifies the means," although in nominal terms they reject this assertion.