It is the soul that makes a nation great or small, noble or ignoble, weak or strong. It is the soul that exalts it to happiness, or sinks it to misery ... it is the spiritual side of humanity ... The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful and virtuous: for upon these conditions depend the life of its life.
- Frederick Douglass, in 1885 on the 23rd anniversary of Emancipation
This may sound politically naive to some, but unless the moral core of our nation is restored, the United States of America may enter the new century as a second-rate power. America's greatness has always been premised on the moral character of our democratic institutions and the dignity and worth of the individuals they serve.
The routine compromise of these principles tolerated by an increasingly cynical public is undermining the strength and integrity of our country's leadership both at home and abroad.
How can we expect our youth to be inspired with a sense of pride and direction leading to good citizenship when they see their political system routinely perverted by unethical fund-raising and influence peddling, and partisan guerrilla warfare often taking priority over solutions to the nation's problems - this, with so many elected officials surrendering principle to politics, and allegations of scandalous behavior riveting public attention and dominating the nation's agenda.
While this may echo the grumbling of generations past - that familiar lament that things aren't what they used to be - the situation is much more serious today.