Sunday, January 14, 2018
6:00 Pm | Auditorium, ground floor


A dialogue on shared bonds and ideals in today’s American society with Amitai Etzioni, professor, The George Washington University and author of Happiness is the Wrong Metric (Springer, 2018), and Mark Lilla, professor of humanities, Columbia University, moderated by Anujeet Sareen, global fixed income portfolio manager, Brandywine Global Investment Management.

Speakers will offer their views on the current state of American society, how it has gotten there, and where and how it can go forward.

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The existence of a people requires a bond between persons created by an event that is perceived as decisive for its historical meaning, for their destiny, and for that of the world. An event gives rise to a people by pointing out a stable bond of belonging between persons who were unrelated up to that moment, just as the event of a child completes the beginning of a family.

The life of a people is determined by a common ideal, by a value that makes it worthwhile living, struggling, suffering and even dying for, a common ideal that makes everything worthwhile.

Second, the life of a people is determined by the identification of the suitable instruments and the methods for attaining the acknowledged ideal, for tackling the needs and challenges that gradually arise from the historical circumstances. Third, it is determined by the mutual fidelity in which one helps the other on the journey towards the realization of the ideal. A people exists where there is the memory of a common history that is accepted as a historic task to be carried out.

Therefore, without friendship, that is to say, without gratuitous mutual affirmation of a common destiny, there is no people.

The most mysterious thing is that the successful formation of a people inevitably implies the prospect that its own good will be good for the world and for everyone else. This emerges clearly when the people acquire a certain security and dignity, and their ideal mature and is affirmed. This is the origin of every civilization, just as its disappearance marks its decline; a civilization declines when it is no longer able to live up to the ideal that generated it.

~Luigi Giussani, Generating Traces in the History of the World, McGill, 2010

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