Table of Contents



1. The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

…it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.

—Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

2. The Sexual Swing

Change the way people think, and things will never be the same.

—Steven Biko, South African civil rights martyr

3. The Past and Future of Marriage

The ranks of the optimists who think the family is alive and well have thinned considerably.

—Arlene Skolnick, Embattled Paradise

4. America’s Children

A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children.

—Jeremiah 31:15

5. Violence

If we saw on this morning’s news reports that a foreign power had killed 25,000 Americans or raped 106,000 American women, we would be at war by the afternoon.

—Louis Freeh, inaugural address as FBI director, 1993

6. Money and Misery

It’s pretty hard to tell what does bring happiness. Poverty an’ wealth have both failed.

—Kin Hubbard, Abe Martin’s Broadcast

7. Individualism and Community

This may well be mankind’s last chance to choose between chaos and community.

—Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go from Here, 1967.

8. Media, Minds and the Public Good

What kind of country do we want?

—Phil Donahue, 1993

9. Educating for a Moral Compass

If there be righteousness in the heart,
there will be beauty in character.
If there be beauty in character,
there will be harmony in the home.
If there be harmony in the home,
there will be order in the nation.
If there be order in the nation,
there will be peace in the world.

—CONFUCIUS, Book of Rites

10. Faith and Society

Who will lead us out of this spiritual vacuum?

—Hillary Rodham Clinton, 1993


Excerpted from The American Paradox: Spiritual Hunger in an Age of Plenty by David G. Myers, published in April 2000 by Yale University Press.

Copyright 2000 by the David and Carol Myers Foundation. All rights reserved.

The American Paradox is available through your local bookstore or from