I cannot help concluding that human nature is unchangeable – the same problems identified 200 years ago are the same problems Americans are facing today. Unfortunately, we are farther down the road to our own destruction than we were in 1815. However, there have been Great Awakenings in the past – nothing is inevitable about the future State of our Nation. But will the hearts and minds of our citizens change in time to prevent further societal decay?
“It is essential to the prosperity and happiness of a nation, that public spirit should extinguish all selfish views in exercise of political rights.
“The citizen should know no object but the good of his country– no passion but for its honour. Public spirit should elevate him above that selfishness, which would engage him in the arts of intrigue and the cabals of faction, in order to attain consequence or station. No scene can be more disgusting, and none to a patriotic mind more dismaying, than those political contests, where freemen, instead of calmly and disinterestedly exercising their political rights in reference solely to the best interests of their country, are arranged, in hostility to each other, under the banners of faction. I would earnestly impress the general truth that a nation, whose citizens are made subservient to the selfish views of conflicting political parties, is not destined to be long free, flourishing, or happy.
“VIRTUOUS HABITS are essential to the prosperity of a nation.
“Virtuous habits, as opposed to Indolence, luxury, and licentiousness.
“No nation was ever flourishing or happy, whose citizens were not distinguished by industry–by that industry which, steadily and vigorously pursuing some useful occupation or profession, leads to individual opulence and comfort, and to national strength and prosperity. Singularly favoured in this respect is our country. The innumerable avenues which it opens to wealth are crowded by its industrious and enterprising citizens, whose ingenuity in every useful art is equal; led only by their zeal and perseverance.
“Happy will they be if their energies are not palsied, nor their virtue corrupted, by the baneful influence of luxury–not that luxury which, employing wealth in the execution of ornamental and useful projects, sends it abroad to animate and to fertilize the nation–not that luxury which, making wealth, within the bounds of moderation, subservient to personal and social gratifications, expands, and refines, and exalts society–but that luxury which makes wealth tributary merely to splendour and to sensuality–that luxury which, engaging all classes of the community in the dangerous contest of ostentation, often ruins the individual in fortune, where it does not corrupt him in morals; and which invariably unnerves the public strength, and effeminates, debases, and destroys the public virtue.
“For in the train of luxury is licentiousness–that licentiousness which dissipates and debauches the higher classes of society, and plunges the lower into, the sinks of profligacy and vice—that licentiousness which knows no laws but those of appetite, and no idol but sensual gratification. A licentious people can never preserve their freedom, nor their prosperity. They will, in the first instance, be flattered and cajoled by those ambitious leaders who will afterwards enslave them, and rule them with the only rod that can keep in subjection a vicious people, the rod of arbitrary power. The profligate citizen is the enemy of his country, who is forging its chains. And, still more tremendous consideration, he is preparing it for the scourges…”
These words of wisdom are quoted from:
The Security of a Nation. A Sermon, Preached in the City of New York, April 13, 1815 by John Henry Hobart.