Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Rebuilding the moral curriculum

WORK. FAITH. COMPASSION. Responsibility. Sacrifice. These are some of the values Americans have traditionally honored, values that are essential to a robust democracy. They provide the moral foundation that gives America its strength. For most of the nation’s first two centuries, these moral qualities were an integral part of the cultural curriculum. They were taught in the family and the schools and reinforced in places of worship.

But, as advocates of Approach One (in the Democracy discussion guide) see it, that foundation has weakened because the moral curriculum has been neglected. Families, schools, and places of worship no longer instill or reinforce the values that are essential to democratic life and self-government. The erosion of our moral foundation is a key cause of our public troubles.

As a nation, we have become self-indulgent and self-absorbed, inclined to accept neither hard choices nor sacrifice in the interest of future generations and their welfare. Civic obligations such as voting, jury duty, and military service are routinely avoided. As individuals, and as a society, we use natural resources with little regard for the future.

“The more serious problems of American democracy,” writes Don Eberly in The Soul of
Civil Society
, “have to do with the erosion of democratic character and habit. A society in which men and women are morally adrift and intent chiefly on gratifying their appetites will be a disordered society no matter how many people vote.”

What do you like, or dislike, about this stated position so far? Do you think this perspective is accurate so far? What are some drawbacks?
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