William Faulkner

The Substance of Faith



The young generation in the United States today, the generation of the Vietnam war, must be unique in at least one way: it is the first to call into question its country’s moral position by rebelling, in sizable numbers, against its policy at home and abroad. But this defection is only a part of a general retrenchment from faith and commitment. The magazines and moving-picture screens flash pictures of nudity, they publicize the break-through of Victorian taboos in accounts of aberration, drugs, promiscuity, and violence. They give ample coverage of one of the major discoveries of the generation that God is, after all, dead. The whole country is, in one way or another, gathered up in this melee of excitement in the breaking of old images; and even those who have been around long enough to be aware of the fads of social change must yet recognize the altered premise on which young Americans today are facing the future. It is our national conviction, says John Steinbeck, “that politics is a dirty, tricky and dishonest pursuit and that all politicians are crooks.” It was not always the case. The nation was founded by a tremendous act of faith, in God, in our leaders, in the rightness of our cause, a faith which permeated every element of American life. In the eyes of the European, the American’s faith became his earmark, the source of his simplicity and naiveté and at times of his truculence, but always of his strength.


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