‘I Am Troubled By The Cynical Immorality Of My Country’ – John Steinbeck – America’s Moral Crisis – 1960 – Past Daily Reference Room
. . .or click on the link here for Audio Player – The Open Mind – Moral Crisis in America – 1960 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection
Some 54 years ago, we were in the midst of a moral crisis. Society was coming apart at the seams. We were becoming a nation of cynics and we were a nation of conspicuous consumption. Our insatiable wants, fueled by endless cajoling from TV to consume more, consume bigger, consume faster. It was destined to have no happy ending – as it was perceived in 1960. Some thought it was the fact that religion had fallen out of favor. Others thought it was our current state of perpetual nervousness over the ever-present doomsday scenario brought on by the Cold War. Others blamed our appalling educational system, the racial chasm in America, the economic imbalance and the gradual erosion of the Middle Class.
Whatever the symptoms were, we were in big trouble. So much so, that Author John Steinbeck wrote to Adlai Stevenson several months prior to this discussion and said; “If I wanted to destroy a nation, I would give it too much and I would have it on its knees; miserable, greedy and sick. On all levels today, American society is rigged. I am troubled by the cynical immorality of my country. It cannot survive on this basis”.
And so the basis for this discussion were established – a discussion as part of the Open Mind program from April of 1960 where the subject for discussion was Is There A Moral Crisis in America Today?
Judging by the tone and the dismay, things haven’t changed much – they have, if anything, gotten worse.
I suspect you already knew that.
But as a way of letting you know the problem isn’t new, here is that discussion featuring Eric F. Goldman, A.H. Raskin, Rheinhold Niebuhr and William Atwood – all participating on The Open Mind.