Are our dreams permanently shattered? Are we in a sharp decline? Is our hour over? No, I don't think so. A certain kind of way of life may be coming to an end, one marked by excessive consumption, waste, and inefficiency. And if you have defined your life or your nation's life by those standards, it does look gloomy. But what really is wrong with smaller cars and more efficient homes and deferred gratification and saving for a rainy day?
This approach toward what might be called a new realism doesn't assume high unemployment forever, homelessness and hopelessness, or leaving a third of our fellow Americans behind. It does assume more honest and affordable expectations, investing in the future -- even beyond our own lives, and corralling the excessive ambitions of some of our neo-whatevers.
Most of all, it assumes a collective national soul-searching about what really is important in life and what really are the eternal truths.