“A Crisis of Confidence”

America was in crisis.

It was July 1979 and a national energy crisis roiled the United States. President Jimmy Carter got on TV and spoke to the people. I wasn’t alive to hear the “A Crisis Of Confidence” speech. But when I read about it in my twenties or thirties, it stuck with me.

It came up again today. We were talking about modern society. About a perceived breakdown in civility, fairness, and opportunity. Someone asked if the media was too blame. I said I didn’t think so. And then I offered my take.

It’s never been a safer time to be alive on this planet.

But there is a sense that optimism is slipping away. Technology alone isn’t to blame. But the speed at which our society is advancing, combined with vulture capitalism, has changed things. It’s warped our vision and how we see each other.

We’ve never been more connected. And yet there’s a pervasive feeling of disconnect slumped over us like smog.

I’m worried. But I’m hopeful. It won’t be easy. We’re on our current path because a certain vision won out. But we can opt for another vision. Jimmy Carter didn’t persuade Americans or the world but he stripped the problem to its core.

The whole speech is great but these two parts stand out:

The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America [insert the world — my addition].

[…]

We are at a turning point in our history. There are two paths to choose. One is a path I’ve warned about tonight, the path that leads to fragmentation and self-interest. Down that road lies a mistaken idea of freedom, the right to grasp for ourselves some advantage over others. That path would be one of constant conflict between narrow interests ending in chaos and immobility. It is a certain route to failure.

U.S. President Jimmy Carter

Leave a Reply