To the Editor:
“How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again” is the subtitle of a new book, “The Upswing,” by Robert D. Putnam.
This distinguished scientist and professor of Public Policy at Harvard University recasts a history of our country from the Golden Age to Progressive Era to the present – the so-called “I-We-I” mentality. The book shows how we have vacillated from individual to a communitarian society, and back to the individual today.
Historians generally agree that life today presents a deep, accelerating inequality, unprecedented political polarization, individual narcissism and vitriolic discord. In fact, many Americans today seem to agree on only one thing, that ethically and morally, this is the worst of times.
Putnam reminds us that as individuals seeking upward mobility and success, we must not make the same mistakes of the past. Rather, we must recognize the needs of everyone in a democratic society both economically and socially, merging “I” and “we” goal-setting together.
To summarize, there must be a trade-off between individualism and community, protecting the interest, rights and freedom of each person, while maintaining a strong sense of unity, shared purpose and a common destiny. Simply stated, “United we stand, divided we fall.”
The point of all this is found in a quote from President Teddy Roosevelt: “The fundamental right of our natural life, which underlies all other, is that, on the whole and in the long run, we shall go up and down together.”
A good thought for all of us in the Lowcountry.