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FACES THE FUTURE
Professor of Philosophy at Vassar College
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
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Many books have been written to explain to foreign peoples what we are; such books naturally tend to self-congratulation and eulogy of our virtues, for it is an instinct to speak highly of ourselves to others. This volume takes a graver and more critical attitude; it has been written not as a description of what we are but as a reminder of what we ought to be. Its readers are asked to consider in these pages what our priceless heritage of American ideals actually is, and how far we are being faithful to our inheritance.
There is perpetual need of thus clarifying and fortifying our own traditional ideals, of renewing our understanding of them and evoking within our breasts a deepened loyalty. For the American spirit is continually endangered by sectionalism, class rifts, the selfishness of the fortunate and the bitterness of the unfortunate, the cynicism of the sophisticated and the complacency of the prosperous. We do not want to rubber-stamp our fellows; but we do want to produce a common devotion to the dreams that have made our nation great, and a widespread demand for their realization. Our future will be safe if we can instil into all classes and groups a true American-mindedness.
With this end in view the book has been divided into five Parts, each of which describes one of our fundamental national ideals, and discusses its application to various contemporary problems, each chapter treating of one such sphere of application. The reading-lists have been carefully selected from the
great mass of material available, and refer in general to books that are both interesting and of real merit, books that should be found in every public library of any size. The periodical-references are, similarly, in most cases to such periodicals as may be found in the ordinary library, rather than to the learned periodicals which are not so generally accessible. In order to cover the field, this volume can only sketch many matters of great importance. It is hoped, however, that it will prove a stimulus to these further readings, where the specific problems may be found treated with the attention to detail which they deserve.
This is no time in the history of our country for inert complacency; the gravest problems loom before us. We are but at the threshold of our national achievement. Our greatest danger lies in the astonishing ignorance of masses of our people, including many of the so-called educated, with respect to existing social and political conditions. Our greatest hope lies in education upon these topics, together with a renewed loyalty to the spirit that has actuated the noblest of our countrymen. It is the hope of the author that here and there one will be led to be truer to that spirit by the perusal of these pages.