MORALE by John W. Gardner


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It has become John Gardner's role to remind us periodically that we can be better than we are. Morale is not very different from The Recovery of Confidence (1970) which was not very different from Self-Renewal (1964). ""There must be a Rosa Parks to sit in the front of the bus"" is the gist of Gardner's gentle needling: some fraction of the population must commit itself to regenerate old values, to resist not only corruption but cynicism and timidity. Such effort is satisfying: people ""want something active to do, something that tests them, that engages their minds and their wills, that involves not only effort but purposefulness."" In the same encouraging vein, anger against mass impersonality is not capricious or futile: people can form new kinds of community--whether in geographic groupings, in the work place, or in voluntary organizations. Gardner's smooth reasonableness tends to mask the difficulties though he does not ignore them. A major problem is to keep power dispersed--to prevent ""not just the government itself but any organized groups or institutions"" (the church, business, unions, professions) from dominating the electorate. And just because we are less sanguine, says Gardner, ""we can face up to the complexities of action and still act."" Whoever reads and heeds redeems Gardner's effort--but how much more could be accomplished with some practical input from Common Cause.

Pub Date: May 22nd, 1978
ISBN: 0393009777
Publisher: Norton