“Facing Reality,” in The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought
Houghton Mifflin, 1998
“My son came home from school once staggered by a discussion of Abraham Lincoln, whom he revered. None of the other students could be persuaded that Lincoln went into politics for anything but the money. The grandeur of his speeches merely proved the depth of his cynicism. In the same way we can refuse evidence of actual merit, and we can discredit seriousness, and we can feel morally acute while we do it.