America needs to move from me to we.
In The Spirit of Community, renowned professor and former White House Fellow Amitai Etzioni, the founder of the Communitarian movement, lays out a blueprint for how in the 1990s Americans can move forward—together.
The Spirit of Community calls for a reawakening of our allegiance to the shared values and institutions that sustain us—from our marriages and families to our schools and our neighborhoods, and extending to our nation itself. In proposing a new balance between our rights as individuals and our social responsibilities, this controversial, groundbreaking book articulates the emerging social attitudes of the nineties.
We have many rights as individuals, Etzioni declares, but we have responsibilities to our communities, too. The right to be tried before a jury of our peers, for instance, is connected to our willingness to serve on one. We as a nation have in recent years forgotten such basic truths of our democratic social contract. And what we need now is a revival of the idea that small sacrifices by individuals can create large benefits for all of us.
We must have the moral responsibility to respect our families and fight to preserve them, to value our children and their futures, and to be willing to espouse and teach commonly held moral values. Etzioni faces the tough issues that arise when the rights of individuals are weighed against those of the community, from free speech versus restrictions on hate speech to the right of police to conduct random checks of motorists’ sobriety, from drug and HIV testing to mandatory national service.
A movement that has already attracted the attention of policymakers as varied as Al Gore, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Jack Kemp, and Henry Cisneros, Communitarianism provides a call to action and a perceptive analysis of American politics and society today. And The Spirit of Community is vital reading for any American who is engaged with the future of the country in the next decade.