The strength or weakness of a society depends more on the level of its spiritual life than on its level of industrialization. Neither a market economy nor even general abundance constitutes the crowning achievement of human life. If a nation’s spiritual energies have been exhausted, it will not be saved from collapse by the most perfect government structure or by any industrial development. A tree with a rotten core cannot stand.
We cannot afford to differ on the question of honesty if we expect our republic permanently to endure. Honesty is not so much a credit as an absolute prerequisite to efficient service to the public. Unless a man is honest, we have no right to keep him in public life; it matters not how brilliant his capacity.
The Tenth Commandment sends a message to socialists, to egalitarians, to people obsessed with fairness, to American presidential candidates in the year 2000 — to everyone who believes that wealth should be redistributed. And that message is clear and concise: Go to Hell.
[A] society deadened by a smothering network of laws while finding release in moral chaos is not likely to be either happy or stable.
Nothing is more certain than that a general profligacy and corruption of manners make a people ripe for destruction.
It’s discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit.
And it is not difficult to show, by abundant instances, that to extend the bounds of what may be called moral police, until it encroaches on the most unquestionably legitimate liberty of the individual, is one of the most universal of all human propensities.
We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge … would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net.
Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt.