The lack of such qualities does have a cost, though, and if we would like to observe it, we need only examine the last 15 years of American history, which have been quite expensive indeed: recurring financial crises motivated by limitless greed, trillions wasted on incompetent foreign belligerence, rampant inequality, poor health, and a dysfunctional, unaccountable political system dominated by money. These problems are, of course, not new to the modern era—but they were not inevitable, either. It’s easy to blame those who led us, but as citizens, we have followed—either deliberately, or because we lacked the capacity to make better decisions. If we continue on this path, we will not only continue to make poor choices—we will lack the kind of citizens that we will desperately need to lead us through one of the most disruptive periods in human history: politically, economically, and culturally.


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