What this nation can become will be influenced, though not fully determined, by the ways in which we think about ourselves as people. With a people as with a person, it is a sign of wisdom and maturity to understand and accept limits that are imposed by nature’s laws and the scarcity of resources, whether physical, human, or political. In this sense we Americans may at last be entering into our maturity. But to accept as real the limits that are imposed only by our own minds is not wisdom but self-inflicted blindness.
Out of our past we have inherited ways of thinking about ourselves that condemn us to try too much and accomplish too little. We fail not so much because our aspirations are too high but because they conflict; and within ourselves, too, we are conflicted in ways we do not fully recognize. In this sense our consciousness, both individual and collective, distorts our understanding of ourselves and our possibilities....
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